The four biggest buyers of Iranian crude oil in Asia increased their imports in April by nearly 23% from a year earlier as Tehran’s exemption from a global production cuts favours the country’s oil export drive.
China, India, South Korea and Japan imported 1.6mn barrels per day (bpd) last month, government and ship-tracking data showed.
However, exports to Asia were down nearly 18% from March, suggesting Iran may be at the limits of its efforts to boost production after sanctions were lifted in January 2015.
Iran has cleared out most of the oil it held in storage while the sanctions were in place.
Asian countries buy most of the oil the country exports.
Iran is pushing hard to raise production and hopes to sign deals with oil majors such as Total and Lukoil this year after the re-election this month of President Hassan Rouhani.
A tender for the Azadegan oilfield, which has an estimated 37bn barrels of crude, started on Monday, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
The development of new fields as well as improved oil recovery from mature reservoirs should allow Iran, the third-largest producer in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), to have the capacity to pump 5mn barrels per day (bpd), or 5% of global crude, from 4mn bpd now.
In the first four months of 2017, the four Asian countries imported 1.8mn bpd, a 40% rise from the same period last year.
Iran was exempted from a deal between Opec and other producers, including Russia, to reduce output by 1.8mn bpd from January 1, and will remain so after the cut was extended last week for a further nine months.
Japan’s trade ministry yesterday released official data, showing Iranian imports were at 41,401 bpd last month, more than double the figure from a year earlier.
They were down sharply from more than 220,000 bpd in March as Japanese buyers waited for the government to extend a state-backed insurance arrangement for purchases.
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