Iran Kept Crude Shipments Highest Since December 2012, IEA Says

Iran Kept Crude Shipments Highest Since December 2012, IEA Says

Iran maintained its crude oil shipments at the highest since the end of 2012 last month amid talks between the country and world powers over its nuclear program, according to the International Energy, Bloomberg reported on March 14.

Buyer countries imported 1.41 million barrels a day last month, the same as a revised figure for January, the IEA, a Paris-based adviser to 28 nations, said in a report today. Deliveries to India and China fell, while those to Japan and South Korea rose, the IEA said. The shipments were the highest since December 2012, according to the agency's data compiled by Bloomberg.

An interim accord easing restrictions on insurance for Iran's oil shipments and freeing up cash held outside the country in return for a suspension of nuclear work went into effect in January. Under the agreement, six buyers permitted under U.S. sanctions to take Iranian crude don't have to cut imports to avoid penalties.

Iranian crude held on tankers rose 2 million barrels at the end of February to 32 million barrels, compared with 30 million barrels at the end of January, including 6 million barrels in vessels off China's coast, according to the report.

Talks in February and March on Tehran's nuclear program were "substantive and useful" according to officials, the IEA said. The next meeting will be on March 18. Iran and the international community have set a late-July deadline to reach a final agreement. "While the political will to achieve a resolution appears strong, major issues and differences over Iran's nuclear program remain and success is far from assured," according to the IEA report.

The six buyers permitted to import Iranian crude under U.S. sanctions are Turkey, China, Japan, India, South Korea and Taiwan. Chinese and Indian imports of Iranian oil fell by 180,000 and 240,000 barrels a day respectively. Japan's and South Korea's rose by 155,000 and 145,000 barrels a day.

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