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Iran could increase its oil exports in August as its crude is now estimated to be much cheaper than Russia’s in China, the key oil customer for both exporters, oil flows tracking firms told Reuters on Wednesday.
Iran, as well as Russia, offer their crude at discounts to China, but the discount of Iranian crude to Russia’s Urals grade has doubled in recent weeks, which could prompt China to buy more oil from Iran, traders and analysts told Reuters.
Iran’s crude for August is now being offered at around $8 a barrel below the price of Russia’s Urals, compared to a smaller discount of up to $4 per barrel at the end of last month.
Exports out of Iran have increased in June and July, tanker-tracking firms have estimated, and expect more flows out of Iran due to the wider discount to Russia’s crude.
China has been the main outlet for Iranian crude oil exports since the U.S. re-imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic’s oil industry in 2018 when then-President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the so-called Iranian nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
In recent days, there has been a lot of talk about the latest developments in the negotiations about a possible restoration of the nuclear deal. Last week, the European Union presented the two sides with the final version of the proposed deal, aiming to settle the differences.
Iran said this week it had submitted a written response to the latest version of the nuclear deal that is being brokered by the EU between Tehran and Washington. However, no details of the response have been provided, which may suggest it was not a positive one as some issues remained unresolved.
“The differences are on three issues, in which the United States has expressed its verbal flexibility in two cases, but it should be included in the text,” the AP quoted IRNA as saying. “The third issue is related to guaranteeing the continuation of (the deal), which depends on the realism of the United States.”
A legitimate return of Iranian exports on the market could add to recession fears, ease concerns about Russian supply once the EU embargo kicks in at the end of the year, and drive oil prices lower.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com