Another slow down in Iran's economy likely

Another slow down in Iran's economy likely

By Dalga Khatinoglu

Iran's GDP (gross domestic product) growth increased by 4.6 percent during the spring of 2014 for first time since 2012, according to the Central Bank of Iran.

The figure raised serious doubts among experts and Iranian government had to justify and defend the announced figure several times with various facts and statistics, like comparing the oil export level during spring with the same period in the previous years.

There is no accurate statistics about Iran's oil export during this period, but the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) says that the growth of oil sector was 6.1 percent at the time.

Mohammad Reza Nobakht told Mehr News Agency on Oct.17 that Iran sold crude oil averagely at $104 during the current fiscal year, without mentioning the amount of exported crude oil.

Mehr reported that Iran offered discounts to customers for its oil last week and currently each Iranian barrel is sold at $86. In spring, the figure stood at $114-$115 per barrel, but has been on a decline since summer.

While there's no official data on Iran's exported crude oil during the current fiscal year (started on March 21), the International Energy Agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration and several other entities put it at about 1.4 million barrels per day

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Iran's oil export have decreased again since July. On Sept. 30, the agency said Asian buyers imported only 921,064 bpd of the Islamic republic's crude in August, the lowest since the last October.

The report says, citing on government and tanker-tracking data, that the August figure is 10.5 percent less that the previous seven-month average.

The statistics released by Iran's Custom Administration also indicate that Iran's gas condensate export has dropped since July by 2.5 times compared to June and continued to fall and reached 196,000 barrels during last month.

The figures are extracted from Iranian Custom Administration's monthly reports:

Condensate export

Volume Kilo metric tons

Value

Thousand barrels per day

Oct 23 to Nov 22

1,149

$1.018B

311.34

Nov 23 to Dec 22

1,690

$1.419B

457.94

Dec 23 to Jan 21

3,599

$2.157B

975.21

Jan 22 to Feb 20

1,095

$959M

296.71

Feb 21 to Mar 20

897

$816M

243.06

Mar 21 to Apr 20

846

$779M

229.24

Apr 21 to May21

4,095

$2.251B

1109.61

May 22 to June 21

807

$761M

218.67

June 22 to July 22

1,965

$1.388B

532.45

July 23 to Aug 22

759

$678M

205.66

Aug 23 to Sep 22

726

$657M

196.72

Budget law and deficit threat

Iran's yearly budget law has the oil price at $100 per barrel for the current fiscal year, and it was considered to export 1.4 million barrel oil (including gas condensate) per day.

Masoud Mir Kazemi, the head of energy commission in Iran's parliament and former oil minister told Mehr on Oct.17 that according to the Oil Ministry's figures, Iran exported 0.1 mbpd less that the figure considered in the budget law.

Iran's oil export has fallen from 2.5 mbpd in 2011 to about 1 mbpd, while Iran's economy had shrunk by about 1.9 and 6.8 percent during the last two consecutive years.

Regarding the 25-percent fall in price and 40 percent drop in value of Iran's oil export during the current time compared to last spring, it's not clear how Iran could prevent huge budget deficit for the current fiscal year.

Meanwhile, Iran's media said on Oct. 17 that the country's President Hassan Rouhani ordered the Oil Ministry to take measures to prevent falling of oil prices by using diplomatic leverages. The details of Rouhani's order were not disclosed, but it could refer to a need for holding an immmediate OPEC meeting.

According to the OPEC's official website, the 166th (ordinary) OPEC meeting is scheduled to be held on Nov.27 in Vienna.

Iran's economy largely depends on oil revenues. OPEC's annual report says that Iran exported about $61,923 worth of petroleum in 2013, while the country's total exports was worth $98,807. According to this report, Iran's GDP at market price in 2013 was about $366 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also says that Iran's oil and natural gas export revenue was $118 billion in the 2011/2012 fiscal year (ending March 20, 2012). In the 2012/2013 fiscal year, oil and natural gas export revenue dropped by 47% to $63 billion.

Dalga Khatinoglu is a specialist on Iran's energy sector and head of Trend Agency Iran News Service

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