Iran has over the past three months sold more than 13 million barrels of oil it had kept in tankers at sea, in a bid to boost its market share while fellow OPEC members are cutting production.
According to exclusive Reuters data and industry sources, Iran’s oil in floating storage at sea is now around 16.4 million barrels, down from 29.6 million barrels in early October 2016, Thomson Reuters Oil Flows data showed.
The amount of oil sold over the past few months has headed to Asian buyers, including India, China and South Korea, and to European customers, including Italy and France, Reuters sources and data said.
Iran is also trying to sell oil on new markets in Europe, including in eastern Europe and in the Baltic states, separate industry sources told Reuters. It has not become clear whether Iran managed to sell oil there and lure new clients.
In the OPEC deal from 30 November, Iran’s production level effective 1 January was set at 3.797 million bpd, below Tehran’s ask to be allowed to reach 4 million bpd to return to pre-sanction levels, but above Saudi Arabia’s insistence of capping at 3.7 million bpd. Moreover, Iran’s bitter regional rival, together with the Saudi Gulf Arab allies Kuwait and the UAE, would be shouldering a hefty portion of the OPEC cuts, while Iran would not cut.
Now that OPEC’s deal is in effect, Iran is using the window to push the oil stored on tankers – as floating storage is expensive – to regain market share it had lost under Western sanctions.
In a sign that Iran sees Asian markets as very important to its oil sales and market share (and possibly trying to take some of Saudi Arabia’s Asian clients), Tehran signed two deals on Friday, one with South Korea and one with the Philippines.
The National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company (NIORDC) has signed a deal worth around $1.9 billion with South Korea’s Daelim Corporation for the optimization of Esfahan Oil Refinery, Iran’s Mehr news agency reported.
In addition, Iran is in talks to sell 4 million barrels of oil per month to the Philippines, Iran’s English-language Press TV reported, quoting a statement by the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).
Earlier this week, the Iranian Oil Ministry’s news service Shana reported that Pedro A. Aquino, managing director at Philippine National Oil Company, said that the company was interested in investing in oil and gas projects in Iran. Philippine National Oil Company is one of the 11 firms in the Pergas consortium that had signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with the National Iranian South Oil Company to carry out studies of two oilfields in Iran.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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