Iran oil exports to reach 2mn bpd soon: Minister
Islamic Republic expects exports to grow due to increased sales to Europe
Iran's sales of crude oil will reach 2mn barrels per day (bpd) ‘soon’, the Economy Minister was quoted as saying on Monday, as the Islamic Republic boosts output after sanctions were lifted in January.
"After taking the appropriate steps and after Iran's return to the oil market, it is expected that Iran's oil sales will soon return to the level of 2mn bpd," Ali Tayyebnia was quoted as saying by the official Shana news agency.
Recently, industry sources told Reuters that Iran, OPEC's No. 3 producer, is expected to raise its oil exports in March to around 1.65mn bpd from 1.5mn bpd a month earlier on the back of higher crude shipments to Europe.
The state-run National Iranian Oil Co. (NIOC) is expected to ship around 250,000-300,000 bpd to Europe this month after it finalised term deals with France's Total and Spanish refiner Cepsa, effective from March 1, the sources said.
The French oil major has a contract to buy about 200,000 bpd, while Cepsa's deal was for about 35,000 bpd, one source said. Total is expected to lift at least 5mn barrels in March, the source added.
Litasco, the trading arm of Russia's Lukoil, Cepsa and Total have become the first buyers in Europe after the lifting of sanctions and lifted trial cargoes in February, trading sources told Reuters.
Hellenic Petroleum, Greece's biggest oil refiner, has said it will receive its first shipment of Iranian crude oil at the end of March.
Tehran is working to regain market share, particularly in Europe, after the lifting of international sanctions in January. Oil exports rose by 500,000 bpd to 1.5mn bpd in February, a senior NIOC official said on Tuesday.
The sanctions had cut Iranian crude exports from a peak of 2.5mn bpd before 2011 to just over 1mn bpd in recent years.