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Iran Oil Storage at Sea Seen by IEA Rising to 42 Million Barrels

Iranian oil stored on tankers at sea rose to as much as 42 million barrels, the International Energy Agency said.

The Persian Gulf country added about 10 million barrels of floating storage by the end of last month, the Paris-based adviser to industrialized countries said in a report today, citing unidentified shipping analysts. About 17 supertankers and seven Suezmaxes are holding crude, with another estimated 25 million barrels being kept in onshore tanks, the report showed.

U.S. and European Union sanctions will cut Iranian crude exports by 1 million barrels a day this year to about 1.5 million barrels a day, the IEA said. Measuring the oil flow has been hampered as Iranian vessels routinely disabled their tracking devices, according to the report. The EU embargo that takes full effect July 1 is already curbing shipments beyond the continent because insurers won’t cover ships hauling the crude.

“In months ahead, Iran may need to shut in production volumes if export markets remain similarly constrained and storage fills up,” the agency said. “The full implementation of the most severe sanctions to date on Iran’s oil and banking sectors is just weeks away.”

Iran is under pressure to stop its nuclear program that the U.S. and Europe suspect involves weapons development. The Tehran government, facing four sets of United Nations sanctions, says it is enriching uranium for civilian and medical purposes.

Discounted Sales

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ second-largest producer may be offering long-term credit, effectively selling oil at a discount, the IEA said. Payments are being stymied by sanctions that block banks settling trades with the country from accessing the U.S. financial system.

The U.S. exempted banks in 17 countries that demonstrated reduced imports, including Japan and India, the second- and third-largest buyers of Iranian supplies. Exports to China, the biggest customer, and India rose by 70,000 barrels a day to 730,000 barrels a day in May, according to the IEA.

Japan advanced a bill to compensate buyers of Iranian crude who lose insurance, the IEA said. The cabinet approved the measure Monday and will submit the legislation to the Diet, or national parliament, for approval.

The number of Iranian oil tankers that sent no location signals for at least a month more than tripled in the last few weeks, according to the most recent data from the ships captured by IHS Inc. Twelve supertankers and seven smaller Suezmaxes haven’t signaled for at least a month, data show.

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