Iran Crude Oil Exports Drop 40 Percent Amid Sanctions, ISNA Says

Iran’s crude oil shipments plunged 40 percent in the last nine months, state-run Iranian Students News Agency reported, in a rare acknowledgment that international sanctions are crimping the country’s most lucrative export.

Iran will export an estimated 1.5 million barrels a day in the Iranian year starting March 21, said Gholamreza Kateb, a spokesman for the parliamentary planning and budget committee, according to ISNA. Kateb, who didn’t provide comparable sales data for the current Iranian year, based his comments on a report Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi presented to the nation’s parliament, the agency reported today.

Revenue from sales of oil and natural gas condensates has fallen by 45 percent and faces a “considerable decrease” by March 20, Kateb said, according to ISNA.

Iran’s oil exports have dwindled as the U.S. and European Union tighten sanctions on the Islamic republic’s energy and banking industries in an effort to deter its nuclear program. Iranian authorities and state-run media have typically played down the impact of sanctions on crude sales.

Formerly the second-biggest producer in the 12-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Iran has slipped to fifth place behind Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Venezuela and Kuwait, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It pumped 2.66 million barrels a day in December, 40,000 barrels a day less than in November, the data show.

The International Energy Agency, which advises the world’s biggest industrialized economies, said last month that Iranian oil exports will slump to 1 million barrels a day this month as European and Asian nations cut purchases to gain exemptions from U.S. sanctions. The EU banned imports of Iranian crude in July.

China, the biggest importer of Iranian crude, reduced shipments by more than 20 percent in the first 11 months of 2012, the Paris-based IEA said.

Iran faces additional penalties starting in February that will prohibit the repatriation of export earnings, according to the agency.

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