Iran to return 'strong' to oil market




(Source: China Energy Network)

Iran's oil minister, Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, said his country had recently significantly increased its oil exports and was ready to come back strong if U.S. sanctions were lifted.

"We will return to the market stronger than ever, sooner than you think," Zanganeh said at an industry event." He added that Iran's oil exports had "increased significantly in recent days".

According to Iran's oil ministry news agency Shana, Zanganeh's remarks were difficult to confirm.

It is difficult to monitor Iran's oil exports by regularly tracking data, as shipments are often carried out by state-owned vessels with their transmitters turned off.

Vortexa data show that in the fourth quarter of 2020, Iran exported an average of 163000 barrels per day of crude oil and condensate, while Argus estimates that Iran's crude oil production increased by 20000 barrels per day to 2 million barrels per day last month.

Biden's victory in the US presidential election in November paved the way for a significant shift in Washington's foreign policy and raised the possibility of the US lifting sanctions on Iranian oil exports.

However, the Biden administration is tempering expectations of quick results for Iran, insisting that if sanctions are to be eased, Iran must fully implement its commitments under the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.

Iran wants sanctions lifted before it resumes its obligations under the deal.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (HassanRohani) said earlier this week: "The ball is in the court of the United States and Washington."

In 2018, the administration of former US President Trump re-imposed sanctions on Iran, withdrawing about 2 million barrels per day of Iranian oil exports from the market.

Some buyers are replacing Iranian crude with increased crude from Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

During the sanctions, China was one of the few destinations for Iranian crude oil exports, with sporadic shipments also going to Syria.

Some traders said that if the sanctions are lifted, Iranian crude may slowly return to the European market, because regional banks may delay arranging necessary financing arrangements until they determine that there is no risk of violating US regulations.

But Zanganeh is confident that Iran will not face any problems in finding a buyer.

"I am not worried about whether Iran's lost oil market share can be regained, and oil buyers will not be limited to one or two sellers," it said."

"In these three years, we have become stronger than ever in marketing, transferring funds and receiving funds. If the sanctions are lifted, we will vigorously enter the market and maximize production in the shortest possible time."

Iran's potential to open the export spigot comes as OPEC members and their rivals Saudi Arabia and Iraq prepare to rein in production.

In February and March this year, Saudi Arabia is willing to cut oil production by an additional 1 million barrels per day, while Iraq still needs to compensate for the production that exceeded the ceiling in previous months.

Iran is not subject to OPEC production cuts.

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