Iran’s Crude Oil Exports at Pre-sanctions Highs
Iran, Libya and Nigeria are allowed to produce “at maximum levels that make sense” as part of any output limits
Iran’s total Crude Oil and condensate sales likely reached around 2.8-M BPD in September nearly matching a Y 2011 peak in shipments before sanctions were imposed on the OPEC producer.
The run-up from shipments of around 2.5-M BPD in August comes mainly from condensate, a light Oil excluded from OPEC supply quotas that is often produced with Nat Gas and can be used to make naphtha for petrochemical production.
Iran sold 600,000 BPD of condensate for September, up from about 350,000 BPD in August and including about 100,000 BPD shipped from storage to meet robust demand in Asia.
September Crude Oil exports increased slightly from the previous month to about 2.2-M BPD.
The Middle Eastern producer has surprised the market by ramping up its Crude Oil output faster than expected, to 3.63-M BPD in August, according to OPEC, up 25% from end-2015 since sanctions were lifted in January.
Iran has said it plans to raise its output to 4-M BPD, although other analysts agreed production has probably peaked for now because investments to pump out more oil are lagging.
National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC) officials did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
Korea was the main demand driver for the growth. Japanese and Indian plants were also raising imports, adding that China’s Sinopec has also boosted its offtake of condensate since August.
Iranian condensate will meet about 70% of the feedstock demand at a new Hyundai Chemical splitter jointly operated by Hyundai Oilbank Co and Lotte Chemical .
A Hyundai Oilbank spokesman declined to comment.
According to trade flow data on the Thomson Reuters Eikon terminal for Iran condensate that discharged in September, about 33% went to South Korea, with the rest going to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), India, China and Japan.
Iran’s South Pars condensate is usually sold at small premiums to Dubai quotes, free-on-board, much lower than Qatari condensate, which sells at premiums of $2-3 bbl, trade sources said.