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Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and…

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What Explains The Sudden Plunge In Iranian Oil Exports?

Iran’s tracked oil exports in November plummeted by several hundred thousand barrels per day compared to October, as many Iranian customers hadn’t nominated barrels amid uncertainty whether they would get U.S. waivers to continue importing Iran’s oil after the sanctions retuned.

“Iranian crude exports so far in November are down several hundred thousand barrels per day from October levels,” Daniel Gerber, chief executive officer at tanker-tracking company Petro-Logistics, told Reuters on Thursday.

According to Petro-Logistics and many analysts, Iranian exports in early November would indeed be much lower, because many of Iran’s customers hadn’t requested any volumes for fear of breaching the U.S. sanctions in the event they failed to secure a waiver.

“The low volumes we saw in the beginning of the month were due to buyer reluctance to schedule loadings while awaiting clarity on sanctions waivers,” Petro-Logistics’ Gerber told Reuters.

On the day on which the U.S. re-imposed sanctions on Iran, Washington also announced that it was granting waivers to eight countries—including Iran’s biggest buyers China and India—to continue importing reduced volumes of oil from Tehran for another 180 days, until early May 2019.

Iran’s oil exports in October were estimated at between 1.5 million bpd and 1.85 million bpd, according to tanker-tracking company estimates, quoted by Reuters. Based on Petro-Logistics’ estimate that Iranian oil exports were down in November by several hundred thousand, Iran’s exports might have been close to 1 million bpd this month, compared to a peak of 2.5 million bpd in April this year. Related: Goldman Expects Extreme Volatility In Oil Markets This Month

However, tracking Iranian oil exports has become increasingly difficult because Iranian tankers are switching off transponders on board. Petro-Logistics CEO Gerber told Reuters that Iran’s oil trade is currently “incredibly opaque and the majority of the trade is hidden.”

“We believe that volumes have been picking up in the past week,” he said.

Meanwhile, Iran continues to strike a defiant tone, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday that the Islamic Republic is selling and will continue to sell its oil, with or without U.S. waivers. 

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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