A slump in Iranian oil output to levels last seen during its wars with Iraq in the 1980s should continue into 2013, the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday, while Tehran insists it has not been affected by international sanctions.
In November, output of Iranian crude oil fell to 2.70 million barrels per day from 2.72 mbd in October, just above the September level of 2.68 mbd, the IEA’s latest Oil Market Report said.
“Iranian production edged lower under the weight of shipping constraints and stepped-up sanctions,” the report said, before adding that the decline was expected to continue based on preliminary crude export data.
In recent years, Iranian output has run on the order of 3.7 mbd, but it began to fall late in 2011 according to IEA data, and is now near levels reached during some periods of Iran’s two wars with Iraq.
Iran is subject to international sanctions owing to concern that Tehran is developing nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian programme.
Iran insists its nuclear enrichment is for purely peaceful purposes.
Turning to Iranian oil exports, the IEA report said they “are expected to turn lower next month and into the New Year – reaching a level closer to 1.0 mbd – as EU and Asian countries reduce further their crude imports from Iran in order to secure continued access to the US financial system.”
Iranian exports in November were estimated by the IEA at 1.3 mbd, up from 1.24 in October and 1.07 in September.
“Reduced crude oil buying from China and India has been offset by increased crude oil purchases from Malaysia, Taiwan and the UAE,” the agency noted.
Iran officially denies that it has been affected by the international sanctions despite evidence provided by data from the IEA and OPEC.
In October, Iranian petrol minister Rostam Ghassemi said the country was still producing 4.0 mbd of crude oil.
But according to the IEA, the sanctions have prevented 95 percent of the global oil tanker fleet from taking on oil in Iranian ports.
Story first published: 12th December 2012