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Iran's March Oil Exports Fall To Two-year Low As Asia Demand Eases: Source

FILE PHOTO: A gas flare on an oil production platform is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Gulf July 25, 2005.
TOKYO (Reuters)

Iran’s crude and condensate exports are set to fall to a two-year low this month as loadings for its main Asian buyers will tumble by one-third from the previous month, said a person with knowledge of the country’s tanker loading schedule.

Global buyers are scheduled to lift 1.94 million barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian crude in March, down 21 percent from the previous month, said the source who declined to be named as the information is confidential. That is the lowest since March 2016.

Compared to a year ago, March liftings from Iran, the third-biggest producer among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), will be down 26 percent. The decline is occurring despite its efforts to entice customers, including reducing official selling prices and offering to raise the freight discounts to India.

Iranian exports in March are set to fall below year-ago levels for the third month in a row. That should help OPEC to tighten global supply, supporting slumping oil prices that have dropped recently on growing concerns about soaring output from the United States.

Iran, which has been working hard to regain market share after Western sanctions over its disputed nuclear program were lifted in January 2016, aims to raise its crude output capacity by 700,000 bpd to 4.7 million bpd within the next four years, Deputy Oil Minister Amir Zamaninia said last month.

Exports to its main markets in Asia are set to total 1.12 million bpd this month, down by one-third from February and the lowest since November 2015, Reuters calculations showed.

Japan, Asia’s fourth-biggest buyer of Iranian oil, will not lift any oil this month, the first time since March 2016, the source said amid uncertainty over whether sovereign insurance for tankers carrying Iranian oil would be extended beyond March.