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Iran Resumes Storing Oil In Tankers As U.S. Sanctions Approach

oil tanker

Iran has started to store oil in its own tankers off its coasts ahead of the U.S. sanctions on its oil exports that are expected to cut Tehran’s ability to ship and sell oil to customers around the world.

According to tanker tracking data compiled by Bloomberg, at least five tankers owned by the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) have been sitting fully laden with crude oil off the Kharg Island oil terminal in the Persian Gulf over the past two and a half weeks. Another two tankers full of Iranian condensate, the ultra light oil Iran produces from its natural gas fields, have been anchored off Dubai for weeks, according to Bloomberg’s tanker tracking data.

Under the previous round of sanctions on Iran, OPEC’s third-largest producer had used this strategy—keeping oil in floating storage off its coasts—when the U.S. and European sanctions in 2012-2016 cut its ability to export oil.

Analysts expect Iran to increase the oil volumes held in floating storage in the coming weeks and months, as the impact of the sanctions will rise.

The U.S. sanctions snapping back in early November are expected to remove 1 million bpd and possibly more of Iran’s oil exports.

Iran’s key customers in Asia—no.1 China and no.2 India—are not expected to cut off their imports of Iranian oil, although India may reduce some of its Iranian intake as it tries to maneuver between cheap Iranian crude and the U.S. pressure to have Iran’s oil exports down to zero.

Related: China Completes First Physical Delivery For Crude Futures

Major Japanese refiners were said last week to have officially notified Iran that they would halt all imports of Iranian oil for October while they wait for the Japan-U.S. talks on Iranian oil importers to make a permanent decision on how to proceed in November.

U.S. ally South Korea did not import any Iranian oil in August, compared to 194,000 bpd imports from Iran in July, according to tanker-tracking and shipping data compiled by Bloomberg. South Korea says that it continues talks with the U.S. for a possible waiver.

Iran’s September exports are expected to plunge and “average as little as 1.5 million barrels a day in September according to the preliminary loading program, compared to around 2.8 million barrels a day of oil exports in April and May,” Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects, said in a note to clients, carried by Bloomberg.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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