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Iran shipped 777 million barrels of crude last year, the state news agency Shana reported. Of this total, which represents an average daily export rate of 2.13 million barrels, 62 percent went to buyers in Asia. The rest was sold to European customers.
The country also exported 490,000 bpd or gas condensate. The combined daily exports of crude oil and condensate are on par with what the country used to export in oil and condensate before the imposition of economic sanctions because of its nuclear program.
The biggest importers of Iranian crude oil last year were China and India, which is hardly a surprise as the two Asian economies are seen as the main drivers of global oil demand over the medium term. The average price of Iranian crude in 2017 was US$52 a barrel – a very substantial premium to the international benchmark’s current price level of mover US$67 a barrel.
Oil revenues for the first seven months of the Iranian year, which started in March 2017, rose by 56.8 percent on the year, to some US$14.08 billion (469.3 trillion rials). The figure also included revenues from oil product sales.
Iran is currently grappling with mass protests against the state of the economy, which are pushing international oil prices even higher. Despite attempts by President Rouhani to appease the protesters and threats from the revolutionary guard to crack down on the rallies, the protests continue.
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While these started as purely economic protests, Iran expert Suzanne Maloney noted in a recent interview with the NPR, they have now evolved into a wider anti-government outpour, “directly confronting the most important aspects of the Islamic Republic's ideology.”
Whether the protests have the makings of another Middle Eastern revolution or they will be dealt with by the revolutionary guard as one official warned, they have certainly served to demonstrate that despite the removal of the sanctions and Iran’s return to international oil markets, not all is well and, as Maloney, notes, it will take a lot more than a couple of years to make it well as Iran’s economic problems are the result of processes that have been going on for decades.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.