Iran’s crude oil exports are rising this month compared to February and March last year, tanker tracker Petro-Logistics told Reuters on Tuesday.
Last week, Geneva-based Petro-Logistics said that Iranian oil exports were up so far in March, following “very low exports in February.” Yet, Iran’s oil exports in the first half of March were below the 21-month high seen in January, according to Petro-Logistics estimates.
“Iranian exports have remained at elevated levels compared to last year,” the tanker-tracking firm told Reuters.
For the first 18 days of this month, Iranian oil exports are tracking at below 600,000 barrels per day (bpd), which is lower than the January export estimate of nearly 800,000 bpd of crude oil exports, which was the highest export volume since April 2019, according to Petro-Logistics.
Iran’s oil exports in February were estimated down by 250,000 bpd from January, Petro-Logistics said last month.
In recent weeks, various reports have suggested that China has been considerably boosting its crude oil imports from Iran to the point that the ports in the Shandong province, where most independent refiners are based, are experiencing tanker traffic congestions. Increased buying from China has provided more incentive for Iranian oil exports.
According to some estimates, China has been taking in some 856,000 bpd of Iranian crude this month—a 129-percent surge compared to February.
China has never actually stopped buying crude oil from the Islamic Republic, even after the Trump Administration slapped sanctions on Iran’s oil sales in 2018, warning buyers to stay away from Iranian crude or risk being sanctioned and cut off from the U.S. banking system.
The Biden Administration warned China earlier this month that it would not turn a blind eye to rising Iranian oil exports to Chinese ports, the Financial Times reported, citing a senior Biden administration official.