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In a sign that Iran may not be able to keep up its oil production on a continued growth curve, Iran’s crude oil exports this month are expected to drop by 8 percent from November export volumes, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing a source familiar with the country’s preliminary tanker schedule.
Iran’s crude exports to the Asian markets are seen plunging in December and unable to offset increased exports to European countries.
Total Iranian exports are expected at 1.88 million bpd this month, down from 2.04 million bpd last month.
Exports from Iran to Asia are expected to be down by 17 percent on the month to 1.11 million bpd, their lowest level since February this year. All major Asian buyers except for India are cutting their Iranian crude purchases this month. On the other hand, Iran’s oil exports to Europe are set to grow 10 percent compared to November to the highest this year, 767,000 bpd, and to levels higher than those seen before stricter sanctions were imposed in 2012.
In Asia, Iran’s exports to China are expected to slump to the lowest volume since October 2015, to 400,000 bpd, which would be a 28-percent plunge from November. Japanese loadings of Iranian crude this month are down 1.6 percent from November, at 134,000 bpd. South Korea is buying 60,000 bpd, half the Iranian oil it bought in November.
India is the only big Asian customer to increase Iranian oil purchases, by 12 percent to 517,000 bpd this month, which makes India Iran’s biggest buyer in December.
Iran was exempt from OPEC’s collective production cut of 1.2 million bpd expected to take form as of January, and was even allowed to raise output by 90,000 bpd.
Following the OPEC deal, in which Iran won a leeway neither to cut output nor to freeze, but to increase, the country has been praising its ‘oil diplomacy victory’, with Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Gulf Arab allies taking up most of the cuts.
Iran is now able to sell as much oil as it wants and to any country it “deems appropriate”, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said last week.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.