Iran’s exports of crude oil were higher than expected in January and are at least holding steady this month, according to tanker data and industry sources, as some customers have increased purchases due to waivers from U.S. sanctions.
Shipments are averaging 1.25 million barrels per day (bpd) in February, Refinitiv Eikon data showed and a source at a company that tracks Iranian exports said. They were between 1.1 and 1.3 million bpd in January, higher than first thought.
A high rate of Iranian shipments would weigh on oil prices and work against a global push to cut supply in 2019 led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. OPEC member Iran negotiated an exemption from the production-cutting pact, Reuters reported.
“We think people are taking more ahead of the deadline,” said the industry source who tracks Iranian exports, referring to the scheduled end of U.S. sanctions waivers in May.
The February shipments are up from January’s 1.1 million bpd, according to Refinitiv. The industry source estimated January exports at 1.3 million bpd, close to February’s level.
In any case, the January figures are higher than initial estimates. Some had predicted Iranian crude exports would stay below 1 million bpd last month, a similar rate to that in December.
A source at a second company that tracks Iranian exports said shipments in the first 10 days of February were above 1.1 million bpd and on a rising trend - higher than the source expected.
Washington gave waivers to eight buyers - including China, India, Japan and South Korea, which were all purchasing Iranian crude in February, according to Refinitiv.
Tehran has vowed to keep exporting oil despite U.S. efforts to reduce its shipments to zero.