Companies that monitor the flows report that despite U.S. sanctions, Iranian oil exports reached new highs in the latter two months of 2022 and are off to a great start in 2023 thanks to increased shipments to China or Venezuela.
Since ex-U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear agreement and reinstituted sanctions in 2018, Tehran’s oil exports have indeed been restricted in order to reduce those shipments and the related revenue to the Iranian regime.
According to some estimates, exports increased under his replacement President Joe Biden, who had pushed to resuscitate the nuclear deal. They reached their highest level since 2019. This is achieved despite obstacles like the deadlock in those negotiations and rivalry from cheap Russian crude.
Iran’s oil exports averaged 1.137 million bpd – barrels per day in December, up 42,000 bpd from the month of November and the biggest level SVB has reported based on past estimations, according to energy consultant SVB International.
Sara Vakhshouri of SVB claimed there hasn’t been a significant crackdown or intervention against Iran’s oil exports compared to the Trump administration.
Exports in January are now solid, similar to recent months.
They have faced significant difficulties due to the decline in Chinese appetite and Russia’s supplies to China.
The majority of its oil still travels to China’s neighbour, the Far East. Iran additionally supports Venezuela’s oil exports.
Iran’s macroeconomic data amply demonstrate how well the government is enforcing the sanctions, based on the statement by Adrienne Watson, one of the esteemed National Security Council spokeswomen at the White House.
Watson added there has never been any hesitancy to impose sanctions on persons who violate the rights of Iranian citizens as well as on Iran’s commerce in drones and missiles.
Late last year, the Treasury Department imposed penalties on an oil-smuggling network associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Oil supply monitoring consultant Petro-Logistics claimed that Iranian crude shipments, which it claimed reached their top point since March 2019, were also on the rise.
Almost on pace with April 2019’s level of 1.27 million bpd, Kpler, a data intelligence company, estimated Iranian oil shipments at 1.23 million bpd in last year’s November, the highest level since August 2022.
However, they dropped to a little under 1 million bpd in December.
A request for comment on shipments was not met with any response from the Iranian oil ministry.
This week’s report from the semi-official Fars news agency claimed Iran’s draught state budget relies on even larger shipments of 1.4 million bpd.
Iran’s top foreign consumer is China. Specialists like FGE believed the majority of Iran’s oil exports to China are repackaged as petroleum from other nations to avoid sanctions. Iran has previously claimed that false paperwork was used to conceal the Iranian provenance of goods.
Iran also increased its involvement in Venezuela last year, which is also subject to US sanctions, by supplying light oil for processing and diluents to create exportable crude grades.
Iranian oil exports are scarcely quantifiable, and approximations frequently vary widely. Tanker monitoring businesses follow the flow using a variety of techniques, including satellite intelligence, port loading information, and human intelligence. Iran typically doesn’t divulge statistics.
China’s purchases of Iranian oil in December reached a new high of 1.2 million bpd, rising 130% from a year earlier, claims another analyst, Vortexa.
The majority of these shipments were received in Shandong, where autonomous refiners have started using reduced grades because of weak domestic demand and low refining profits since the latter part of 2022, or so said the business.
The press office of China’s foreign ministry responded to a request for comment by saying, without directly addressing the issue of China’s record Iranian oil purchases: the legitimate and fair cooperation between China and Iran underneath the international legal system deserves respect and protection.