DUBAI: Iran still faces constraints on oil exports as buyers are cautious about boosting trade immediately because of banking and ship insurance difficulties, a senior Iranian oil official said, despite seeing a “tangible” rise in shipments this month.
Iran emerged from years of economic isolation in January when world powers led by the United States and the European Union lifted crippling sanctions against Opec’s No. 3 oil producer in return for curbs on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
The sanctions had cut Iranian crude exports from a peak of 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) before 2011 to just over 1m bpd in recent years.
Iran is working to regain market share after sanctions relief and exports had already risen by 500,000 bpd in February, Mohsen Ghamsari, director of international affairs at National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC), told Reuters on Tuesday.
But the country’s crude shipments, particularly to Europe, have been complicated by a lack of clarity on ship insurance, dollar clearance and European banks’ letters of credit.
“For March, definitely our volumes are going to be higher than February … but it depends on the logistics situation and the banking channels. Still, some shipping companies are somehow reluctant to come and banks also,” he said in a telephone interview from Tehran.
“If everything goes well, definitely the volumes for March are going to be higher than February. The difference between March and February is going to be quite tangible. The main or biggest portion of these additional cargoes is going to be destined for Europe,” he added.
Litasco, the trading arm of Russia’s Lukoil, Spanish refiner Cepsa and France’s Total have become the first buyers in Europe since the lifting of sanctions, trading sources told Reuters.
Ghamsari said those cargoes were trial shipments and NIOC had started negotiations for term contracts with potential buyers.
Courtesy : Dawn News