Iran's crude shipments in February were the highest since the imposition of Western sanctions that have crippled its oil-dependent economy, the International Energy Agency reported on April 11.
According to Bloomberg, Imports of Iranian oil were 1.65 million barrels a day in February, the highest level since June 2012, the IEA said. March shipments were estimated to have fallen to 1.05 million barrels a day from February's figure, "but that figure will likely be revised upwards closer to February levels upon receipt of more complete data," the IEA said.
"Imports of Iranian oil are running well above 2013 levels for the third consecutive month," the Paris-based adviser to 28 nations, said in its monthly oil market report. "Imports from Iran could remain high for April."
An interim accord easing restrictions on insurance for Iran's oil shipments and freeing up cash held outside the country went into effect in January, in return for a suspension of some parts of the country's nuclear program. Diplomats from Iran and the West will meet again on May 13 for talks, before a July deadline for a final deal.
The IEA revised upward February import volumes of Iranian crude by 240,000 barrels a day on more complete data. China, India, and South Korea all imported more Iranian oil than originally estimated in February, the IEA said. The agency counts cargoes once they are received in importing countries.
Talks this month on Tehran's nuclear program left countries with "a lot of intensive work" remaining to be done over the coming three months according to officials, the IEA report said.
Buyers permitted to import Iranian crude under U.S. sanctions are Turkey, China, Japan, India, South Korea and Taiwan. In March importers of Iranian oil expanded to include Albania and Syria. February data for Chinese, Indian and Korean imports were revised upwards by 168,000, 93,000 and 83,000 barrels per day respectively. Japanese data was revised down by 103,000 barrels per day.
Iranian crude stored on tankers fell from 32 million barrels at the end of February to 22 million barrels at the end of March, the agency said citing data from E.A. Gibson Shipbrokers.