14 December 2016, Tokyo — Iran’s crude oil exports in December are set to fall 8 percent from November to a five-month low, a source with knowledge of its preliminary tanker schedule said, as lower shipments to China and others in Asia offset bumper exports to Europe.
Iran was exempted from last month’s OPEC deal to reduce output by 1.2 million barrels per day (b/d) starting from January and had been expected to boost its output slightly.
But Iran’s December crude exports excluding condensate are set to fall to 1.88 million b/d, from 2.04 million b/d in November, the source familiar with its export situation said. That may be a sign it is having trouble maintaining output after the lifting of sanctions this year led to a surge in production.
Exemption from the deal agreed by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was a victory for Tehran, which has argued it needs to regain the market share it lost under Western sanctions targeting its nuclear program.
Compared with a year ago, Iran’s December crude exports are still set to jump 81 percent as shipments to Europe resumed only in February this year, according to the source.
Asia Export to Tumble
Iran exports to Asia this month are set to fall 17 percent from November to 1.11 million b/d, the lowest since February, as major importers all cut their purchases except for India.
Exports to Europe look set to rise 10 percent from November to this year’s high of 767,000 b/d, topping levels seen prior to the imposition of toughened sanctions in 2012.
Before the sanctions were enforced, Iran was exporting about 2.2 million b/d of crude each month, with Europe taking about 600,000 b/d, according to the International Energy Agency.
Loadings headed for China in December will tumble 28 percent from November to 400,000 b/d, the lowest since October 2015.
Japan is lifting 134,000 b/d of crude, down 1.6 percent from November, while South Korea is loading 60,000 b/d, half its November volumes.
India – the only major Asian buyer to show growth – will load 517,000 b/d in December, up 12 percent from November, making it Iran’s top buyer for the month.
In Europe, Italy and Turkey are both lifting around 190,000 b/d, while Greece and Spain are taking around 97,000 b/d.
Austria is loading about 1 million barrels this month, following its first purchase in years in August.
In addition, another 161,000 b/d is heading to unspecified destinations in Europe.
Asia’s Iranian crude oil imports: here
*Osamu Tsukimori; Editing: Tom Hogue – Reuters