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|09 March, 2018

Iran's March oil exports fall to two-year low as Asia demand eases -source

March crude, condensate loading at 1.94 mln bpd, down 21% m/m

Gas flares from an oil production platform at the Soroush oil fields with an Iranian flag in the foreground in the Persian Gulf, 1,250 km (776 miles) south of the capital Tehran, July 25, 2005. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi Image for illustrative purposes.

Gas flares from an oil production platform at the Soroush oil fields with an Iranian flag in the foreground in the Persian Gulf, 1,250 km (776 miles) south of the capital Tehran, July 25, 2005. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi Image for illustrative purposes.

REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

TOKYO  - Iran's crude and condensate exports are set to fall to a two-year low this month as loadings for its main Asian buyers will tumble by one-third from the previous month, said a person with knowledge of the country's tanker loading schedule.

Global buyers are scheduled to lift 1.94 million barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian crude in March, down 21 percent from the previous month, said the source who declined to be named as the information is confidential. That is the lowest since March 2016.

Compared to a year ago, March liftings from Iran, the third-biggest producer among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), will be down 26 percent. The decline is occurring despite its efforts to entice customers, including reducing official selling prices and offering to raise the freight discounts to India. 

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Iranian exports in March are set to fall below year-ago levels for the third month in a row. That should help OPEC to tighten global supply, supporting slumping oil prices that have dropped recently on growing concerns about soaring output from the United States.

Iran, which has been working hard to regain market share after Western sanctions over its disputed nuclear programme were lifted in January 2016, aims to raise its crude output capacity by 700,000 bpd to 4.7 million bpd within the next four years, Deputy Oil Minister Amir Zamaninia said last month. 

Exports to its main markets in Asia are set to total 1.12 million bpd this month, down by one-third from February and the lowest since November 2015, Reuters calculations showed.

Japan, Asia's fourth-biggest buyer of Iranian oil, will not lift any oil this month, the first time since March 2016, the source said amid uncertainty over whether sovereign insurance for tankers carrying Iranian oil would be extended beyond March.

The following table shows monthly loadings of crude and condensate at Iranian ports in 1,000 barrels per day to global markets and countries, as well as rough percentage changes from the previous month, according to the source.

Asia Mar Feb pct

China 490 682 -28

India 365 456 -20

Japan 0 207 -100

South Korea 263 325 -19

Total Asia 1,117 1,670 -33

UAE 111 152 -27

Total Middle East 111 152 -27

Greece 97 71 36

Italy 161 179 -10

Spain 97 89 8

Turkey 226 179 27

North West Europe 129 107 20

Total Europe 710 625 14

Total crude exports 1,938 2,448 -21

  (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Christian Schmollinger) ((osamu.tsukimori@thomsonreuters.com, +813 6441 1857, Reuters Messaging: osamu.tsukimori.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net;))