Iran’s Crude Exports Rise as China Port Blockages Ease, IEA Says

Iran exported 66 percent more crude oil in May than in April, helped by an increase in purchases by China after congestion eased at the Asian nation’s ports, the International Energy Agency said.

Imports of Iranian crude reported by consumers rose to the “relatively high” level of 1.39 million barrels a day from 835,000 barrels a day in April, the IEA said in its monthly oil report today. China imported 715,000 barrels a day of Iranian crude last month, almost double the 370,000 barrels it received in April when port congestion delayed deliveries and pushed off cargoes until May, the Paris-based agency said. China accounted for 51 percent of Iran’s exports in May, according to a Bloomberg News calculation based on IEA numbers for the month.

The U.S. and its allies are restricting Iran’s oil exports, the country’s largest revenue source, and targeting its financial industry to pressure the Islamic republic to stop enriching uranium. The curbs have cut Iran’s oil exports by more than half to an average of about 1 million barrels a day in the first five months of the year, according to the IEA.

The U.S. last week renewed 180-day waivers from sanctions for nine countries, including China, India and South Korea. The U.S. Congress may tighten measures against Iran and is discussing ways of making it tougher for buyers of Iranian crude to receive waivers, the IEA said. Such measures might specify more clearly how much oil from Iran buyers must forego to avoid penalties, the agency said. That would replace current “vague” definitions that buyers must show they “‘significantly reduced” purchases,” the IEA said.

Iranian crude output rose by 30,000 barrels a day in May to 2.68 million barrels a day, the IEA said. The country was holding about 30 million barrels of oil in floating storage at the end of last month, a level unchanged from April, it said.

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