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Iran Can Double Oil Exports If Necessary

Iran could double its crude oil exports if the world needs more oil, Bloomberg has reported, citing the managing director of the National Iranian Oil Co.

Despite the stalling negotiations on the new nuclear deal that, if finalized, would see U.S. sanctions on Iran removed, Iran stands ready to take full advantage of such a development.

Tehran, Mohsen Khojastehmehr said, will “exert maximum effort to recoup its crude oil market share and revive its customers.”

“As we managed to bring production back to pre-sanctions levels, now we claim that we can double oil exports and the capacity exists in oil terminals and other mechanisms to raise the oil exports,” the official also said, as quoted by Iran’s news agency IRNA.

Iran has indeed been expanding its production and exports. Towards the end of last year, exports rose to some 1.6 million bpd, and remained at this level over the first quarter of this year as well.

China is by far Iran’s biggest oil customer, taking in the bulk of what Iran exports despite the sanctions. To date, Iranian crude accounts for some 7 percent of total Chinese oil imports, per Reuters.

Meanwhile, the nuclear deal that could see Iranian crude return to international markets has stalled because of apparently irreconcilable differences between the Iranian and the U.S. sides. A glimmer of hope emerged earlier this month after a visit by the EU envoy on the issue to Tehran.

Following the visit, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told the media that “The negotiations had stalled and now they have been reopened.” 

Yet it will be a while before Iranian exports resume in full—one of the sticking points in the negotiations is the U.S. designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.

“These kind of things cannot be solved overnight. Let’s say things were blocked and they have been deblocked,” Borrell said last week.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on May 16 2022 said:
    Since OPEC introduced the oil production quota system in 1981 and allocated a quota of 4.0 million barrels a day (mbd) for Iran, the Islamic republic has never managed to fulfil its quota.

    In fact, Iran’s oil production prior to the latest US sanctions averaged 3.693 mbd with exports averaging 1.966 mbd according to OPEC Annual Statistical Bulletin. So the claim by the managing director of the National Iranian Oil Co. that Iran can double its exports once sanctions are lifted is neither realistic nor achievable.

    And despite US sanctions Iran is reported to have been exporting an estimated 1.5-1.6 mbd or 75%-80% of its pre-sanctions levels with exports to China accounting for two-thirds of the total.

    That is why Iran isn’t in a hurry to sign a new nuclear deal with the United States unless it is on its own terms meaning a lifting of all sanctions against it first, no new limitations on its nuclear and ballistic missiles development programmes and lifting the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the US list of terrorists. This is something the US can't agree to.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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