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According to official Iranian media today, the tanker is at Kharg Island in the Gulf and the exports will go to French oil giant Total SA.
But this is only one of three tankers preparing to export Iranian oil to Europe.
A second and third tanker are loading one million barrels each, headed for Spain’s refiner CEPSA and Russian Lukoil’s trading arm, Litasco.
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Earlier this month, Total agreed to buy between 150,000 and 200,000 barrels of Iranian crude a day. According to Iranian media, Total would start importing 160,000 barrels per day in line with a contract that takes effect already on 16 February.
The Iranian Oil Ministry says that it’s crude oil sales to Europe have exceeded 300,000 barrels per day, counting the Total deal. The Ministry also says that Italian oil giant Eni is interested in buying 100,000 bpd from Iran, and that such a contract will be discussed soon in Tehran.
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Iran is also increasing exports to Japan, in what is being viewed as a challenge to its OPEC rivals Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE.
Since December, Iran’s exports to Japan have increased by 34 percent, according to Russian RT news agency, while Saudi Arabia has seen only a 5 percent increase in its exports to Japan. All in all, Iran is reportedly eyeing 10 percent of Japan’s market share, or a daily export volume of 350,000 barrels.
Last month, the Iranian National Oil Company ordered an increase of 500,000 barrels per day of production.
By James Burgess of Oilprice.com
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