A view of a petrochemical complex in Assaluyeh seaport on Iran’s Persian Gulf coast. Iran’s oil sales in October will fall to their lowest in months, according to sources who track tanker loadings.
TOKYO/SINGAPORE: Iran’s oil sales in October will fall to their lowest in months, according to sources who track tanker loadings, indicating no early petrodollar dividend for Iran despite its apparent willingness to compromise on its disputed nuclear work.
The Opec-member is reaching out to its mostly Asian oil buyers to start clawing back the million barrels in market share lost to rivals such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia since the US and EU slapped it last year with the toughest sanctions in decades.
But the buyers have been lukewarm to Iranian offers of discounted oil. The Asian market is well supplied, with shipments rising from Russia, West Africa and Latin America as import demand in the West slows, and with other Middle Eastern producers lowering prices to retain customers.
Keeping Iran oil imports at reduced levels will also make it easier for China, India, Japan and South Korea — Tehran’s top clients — to win the sanction waivers the United States grants every six months for progressively lower oil buys from Iran.
It is not clear how Washington would react if Iran oil shipments began creeping up, and the importers are unlikely to take chances, especially since US officials have said easing of the sanctions would take time despite the thaw in relations.
“Unless there are clear signals (on the easing of tensions), I don’t think there will be big change in imports,” said a Chinese industry source familiar with the situation. “As long as the US waiver is still there, no one can make a big move.”
The US and EU sanctions aimed at ending Iran’s nuclear programme have cut Iran’s oil exports in half from pre-2012 levels and cost it billions of dollars a month in lost revenue.
The Middle Eastern nation’s crude exports, excluding condensate, are expected to fall nearly 30 percent from a year earlier to 719,000 barrels per day (bpd) in October, according to the sources who track its tanker loading plans.
September loadings were estimated to have come in at 966,800 bpd, according to the sources.
That means a plunge in the exports to near the 636,000 bpd level touched in April, the smallest daily average in decades.