Importers of Iranian crude kept purchases little changed in December, the month after world powers agreed to relax some sanctions against the Persian Gulf state as part of an accord to curb its nuclear program, the International Energy Agency said.
Buyer countries received 1.15 million barrels a day last month, compared with an upwardly revised 1.1 million barrels in November, the IEA, a Paris-based adviser to 28 nations, said in an e-mailed report today. Most shipments that arrived at Asian ports in December would have left Iran in the prior month. The deal to curb some sanctions was reached in principle on Nov. 23 and took effect yesterday.
While the Geneva accord means nations no longer have to cut imports of Iranian oil to avoid U.S. sanctions, they’re barred from increasing purchases. The White House says Iran’s shipments slumped 60 percent to 1 million barrels a day since America and its allies intensified measures in 2012. Daily imports of Iranian crude and condensate, a lighter type of oil, fell by 450,000 barrels to 1.07 million in 2013, the IEA said.
Iran agreed to neutralize its stockpile of near-20 percent uranium as part of the November accord that the U.S. says would prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, according to a White House statement. Europe suspended a tanker-insurance and reinsurance ban that prevented most non-Iranian ships from sailing to the nation’s ports. The relaxation may lead to “small increases” in sales from Iran, the IEA said.
Potential Russian purchases of Iranian crude might undermine the latest negotiations, the IEA said. Russia may buy as much as 500,000 barrels a day from Iran, Kommersant reported Jan. 16, citing unidentified government officials.
The estimate for Iranian shipments in November given today by the IEA was raised 29 percent from its Dec. 11 report. The agency calculates shipments from governments’ submissions and statistics, customs agencies, tanker tracking and news reports.
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