Iran Exports Oil Product as Sanctions Cut Crude Sales

Iran, holder of the world’s fourth-biggest proven crude reserves, is exporting more oil products as western sanctions reduce the amount of crude it ships overseas, the country’s oil minister said.

Iranian crude exports have fallen by about 20 percent and most of the volumes have been replaced by products, Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi told reporters today in Vienna, where the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries met to determine production policy. He didn’t specify a timeframe for the decline in shipments.

“Part of our oil exports have been transformed into oil products,” Qasemi said. “There are many customers for oil products. We used to import gasoline and now we are exporters.”

Iran is under U.S. and European Union sanctions intended to halt its nuclear program, which they say is aimed at producing atomic weapons, while the government in Tehran says the project is for civilian purposes. The restrictions have curbed oil exports and complicated the Islamic republic’s repatriation of cash from crude sales.

Shipments from Iran are insured by the government as well as by the authorities of its customers, including China, Korea, India and Japan, Qasemi said.

The EU sanctions introduced last year barred 95 percent of the global fleet from conducting business in Iran because London-based underwriters arrange most of the insurance.

OPEC kept its oil output ceiling unchanged for a third time as members believe there is a comfortable balance between supply and demand, officials including Venezuelan oil minister Rafael Ramirez said after the meeting ended today.

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