Iran Seen Storing Crude Oil at Sea as Sanctions Disrupt Sales

Iran is storing 30 million barrels of crude at sea as sanctions hinder exports and projects that would allow it to build onshore facilities to hold oil, according to E.A. Gibson Shipbrokers Ltd.

Fourteen very large crude carriers are storing Iranian oil, the London-based shipbroker said in an e-mailed report today. Sanctions are hindering exports and preventing the Persian Gulf country from importing the steel it needs to build storage plants on land, according to the report.

The U.S. and European Union are trying to isolate Iran to pressure its leaders to stop enriching uranium that could be used to build a nuclear bomb. The government in Tehran says the program is for peaceful purposes. Iran exported 1.1 million barrels a day in March, about 50 percent less than a year earlier, the International Energy Agency estimates. Its oil revenues fell 27 percent last year, the U.S. Energy Department said April 26.

Iran stored oil on tankers in the second quarters of 2008, 2010 and 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg at the time. Refineries in the Northern Hemisphere normally carry out maintenance during the period, curbing demand for imports.

Iran was storing oil on at least 11 VLCCs and one smaller vessel at the end of April, according to IHS Fairplay, a maritime researcher based in Redhill, England, that collates data on vessel movements.

To contact the reporter on this story: Isaac Arnsdorf in London at iarnsdorf@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alaric Nightingale at anightingal1@bloomberg.net

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