Iran's oil exports tumble as sanctions hit home

Oil_barrelsIranian oil exports have fallen significantly this month as some buyers stop or scale back purchases to abide by Western sanctions, Reuters reported

Crude exports from Iran appear to have fallen recently by around 300,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 14 per cent, according to estimates from industry consultant Petrologistics and a large unnamed European oil company.

It is the first sizeable drop in oil shipments from the OPEC producer since the European Union announced in January plans to embargo Iran’s crude from July and Washington and Brussels sanctioned the country's central bank.

European buyers of Iranian crude including France’s Total have already stopped buying the oil, which is subject to European Union sanctions from July 1st. Royal Dutch Shell is also scaling back.

“We are taking less and less — very few barrels,” said an official with a European oil company, until earlier this year one of the larger EU buyers of Iranian crude.

According to Petrologistics, a Geneva-based oil industry consultant, Iranian exports may amount to 1.9mn bpd in March, down from about 2.2mn bpd in February.

A source at an oil company, which still deals in Iranian crude, said the evidence pointed to an overall drop in shipments in March, seeing a decline of at least 300,000 bpd mainly because European customers are taking less.

Petrologistics is one of a number of companies which estimates oil output by tracking tanker shipments, because Iran, like many big oil exporters, does not routinely disclose on a timely basis how much it is supplying.

Iran’s oil exports are difficult to track and, like those of other countries, they can fluctuate week by week. It's quite possible that the picture may change again before the end of the month.

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