The Friday report by the Reuters news agency said Iranian crude shipments continued to rise in 2023 with higher shipments to China, Syria and Venezuela. The report quoted consultants, shipping data, and a source familiar with the matter.
A large chunk of Iran’s crude oil goes to China which is the world’s major importer of energy. Several European customers including Germany, Spain, and Bulgaria also imported oil from Iran.
Iran has not released official figures about its oil exports over the past years amid efforts to evade Washington’s illegal sanctions.
The United States, under former president Donald Trump, abandoned the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in May 2018 and reinstated unilateral sanctions that the agreement had lifted.
Tehran’s oil exports have been limited since May 2018. However, the exports have risen steadily during the term of current US President Joe Biden.
The crude exports exceeded 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in May, the highest monthly rate since 2018, Reuters reported quoting Kpler, a major international tanker-tracking service.
The exports were roughly 2.5 million bpd in 2018, before the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement.
Iran said in May it has boosted its crude output to above 3 million bpd. That’s about 3% of global supply and would be the highest since 2018, according to figures from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
A source familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier this month output was still at this level.
The International Energy Agency this week put Iran’s May production at 2.87 million bpd, close to Iran’s official figure.
The Reuters report quoted analysts saying Iran’s production and exports have risen.
SVB International, a consultant, estimates crude production hit 3.04 million bpd in May, up from 2.66 million bpd in January. Exports of crude and condensate were 1.93 million bpd in May, according to the report.
“Sanctions are in place but perhaps they are not fully implemented or monitored,” stated Sara Vakhshouri of SVB.
A Bloomberg report also said on Friday Iran is shipping the most crude in almost five years despite US sanctions.
Bloomberg cited energy analysts as saying that Iran’s oil exports have surged to the highest level since the US unilaterally re-imposed sanctions on the country in 2018.
The crude shipments have doubled since last autumn to reach 1.6 million barrels a day in May, according to the report.
The figures are the latest sign that US sanctions on Iran have failed to cut the country’s oil revenues to zero, an objective frequently stated by former and current US administration officials.
They also vindicate efforts by Iran in recent years to rely more on diplomatic and economic resources to circumvent US sanctions rather than to submit to Washington’s pressure to scale back its nuclear, defense and foreign policy programs in return for an easing of the sanctions.
In May, senior US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham confessed to the ineffectiveness of the sanctions that have been unilaterally imposed on Iran.
Graham slammed the Joe Biden administration for failing to stop Iran’s oil exports.
“Iranians are making more money under sanctions not less and China is the biggest reason we’re not doing a damn thing about it,” he added.