A close look at Iran's oil products output and exports
By Dalga Khatinoglu - Trend: Iran's official statistics indicate significant impacts on petroleum sector, alongside the crude oil exports.
Iran's oil exports were around 2.2 million barrels per day in 2011 but the figure had dropped, resulting in being one million barrels as of current. The same falling trend applies to the country's gas condensates and oil products exports.
Iran's former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once talked about Tehran's plan for stopping crude oil exports and turning toward exporting value-added oil products. But the statistics doesn't support the claim and show that the exports of Iran's oil products including liquid petroleum gas (LPG), fuel oil, diesel oil, kerosene, and naphtha have faced severe cuts.
According to official statistics, Iran's production capacity for the mentioned products stood at around 260 million liters per day in April, but the figure has since increased to over 264 million liters.
OPEC's latest Annual Statistics Bulletin suggests that Iran's total refinery capacity was around 1.681 million barrels per day in 2012, indicating a 91,000 bpd decrease compare to 2011.
Based on the latest report of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) which was released on March 28, Iran's total LPG, fuel oil, diesel oil, kerosene, and naphtha exports in 2011 stood at 320,000 barrels per day. EIA has not released any data on Iran's exports in 2012 and 2013.
However, Mostafa Kashkouli, the managing director of the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company, said on October 1 that fuel consumption (fuel oil, diesel, and kerosene) by power plants has increased 35 percent since the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21, 2013) compared to the same period in the past year. Fuel consumption rose by 3.3 billion liters and reached 12.5 billion liters, he said.
Liquid petroleum gas (LPG)
In the past few years LPG (liquefied butane and propane) was one of Iran's most profitable oil products for export. But the official statistics released by the country's Customs Administration show that in the first seven months of the current calendar year (which started on March 21) Iran totally exported 491,000 tons of liquefied propane worth $455 million. The figure shows 40.68 percent decrease compared to the same period of time previous year. Tehran also exported 483,000 tons of butane worth $432 million in the mentioned period, which is 29.68 percent less than the same time span last year.
Official reports from Iran in January suggested that by development of Fajr-e-Jam gas refinery's units, the country has managed to increase its liquid gas production to 14.5 million liters. But the refinery's new units have not completely come on stream yet. Iran's real liquid gas production currently stands at 12.5 million liters. According to Iran's Customs Administration reports, the country exported 2.5 million tons of propane worth over $2 billion in the year to March 2012. The country also exported 1.578 million tons of butane worth $1.32 billion in the mentioned period.
Iran's butane and propane exports respectively faced 34.67 and 45.13 percent decrease in the following year.
Fuel oil is Iran's second most profitable exported oil product next to LPG. After the implementation of US and EU sanctions against Iran's crude oil export, the country increased its fuel oil exports remarkably. Reuters reported in May that in the first quarter of 2013 Iran exported 200,000 barrels of fuel oil per day, which is 79 percent more than the same period previous year.
The figure even rose to 300,000 barrels per day (1.17 million tons per month) in April, which was 5 times more than April 2012. However, Reuters quoted an official with the National Iranian Oil Company on November 12 as saying that the country has averagely exported 135,000 barrels per day (600,000 barrels per month) in the current year. The official went on to note that the figure dropped to one-third as of late September due to the rise in consumption of fuel oil in Iran's electricity power plants.
Alireza Zeighami, the former managing director of the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company, told the Mehr News Agency in May, that fuel oil production capacity fell from 84 million liters per day to 80 million liters per day in the current year and the figure will further decrease to 60 million liters, he added.
Based on the latest official statistics published by the Tasnim News Agency on November 7, domestic consumption of fuel oil hit 49.7 million liters per day. The figure even exceeded 70 million liters some days in autumn of this year.
In April, Zeighami said that kerosene production has decreased from 26 million liters per day to 15 million liters per day. However, official statistics show that domestic consumption of kerosene rose 50 percent last week and reached 19.943 million liters per day last week from 13.357 million liters per day.
Alireza Zeighami's statement about Iran's plan to decrease low value fuel oil and kerosene was intended to increase diesel fuel output instead. But, statistics show that diesel fuel production has increased by four million liters per day since the beginning of the current year. Iran has produced 94 million liters of diesel fuel per day and consumed the same amount. Meanwhile, gasoline consumption has varied between 90-110 million liters per day.
Official statistics indicated that diesel fuel consumption hit 99.057 million liters in the last week. However, average daily consumption was 93.143 million liters, according to Tasnim's report. In other words, Iran had no diesel fuel to export.
On February 14, 2012, the Shana News Agency quoted Zeighami as saying that Iran exported one million tons of naphtha in the year which ended on March 20, 2012. However, according to data released by international organizations including United Nations, the latest statistics about Iran's naphtha export covered only 2010's exports and reported at 858,000 tons.
National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company has listed naphtha among export-bound products in the year ended on March 20, 2013. But, it reported that Iran exported totally 889,000 tons of naphtha, diesel fuel, and sulfur, valued at $823 million in that year. According to official statistics, 500,000 tons of sulfur was exported during this year, while naphtha and diesel fuel exports totally were less than 400,000 tons in last Iranian calendar year, ended on March 20.
The Customs Administration of Iran has reported that the country's condensate exports fell 30.56 percent in the first seven months of the current Iranian year, compared to the same period in the past year.
Iran exported 4.333 million tons of gas condensates, worth $3.926 billion in the mentioned period of time, showing 30 percent fall in weight value.
Iran's refineries have a total capacity to refine 37,000 barrels of gas condensates per day. The figure had been projected to be increased to 360,000 barrels per day once the Persian Gulf Star Refinery comes on stream. But, the refinery is still far from being inaugurated. In the Iranian year ended to March 2012, Iran exported 11.378 million tons of gas condensates, valued at $10.115 billion. The figure decreased by 12.5 percent in the next year.
Dalga Khatinoglu is Iran News Service head of Trend Agency