Iranian Oil Sales Stay High In May Amid Bumper Chinese Buying

As nuclear talks enter their final stretch, trade figures show China and India are increasingly ignoring US ‘limits’ on their Iranian crude purchases.

Intakes of Iranian crude oil and condensate in May were almost level with April’s bumper volumes, and well above ‘limits’ set out as part of the interim nuclear deal struck between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers last November. Iran’s number one customer China took near-record volumes.

The November deal referred to “current levels” for each importing country, rather than setting absolute volumes. This was interpreted as meaning a total of around 1mn b/d, a level US officials have also referred to as their approximate marker and largely in line with MEES’ 994,000 b/d estimate of Iranian exports in the six months prior to the deal. This implies a Chinese ‘limit’ of around 400,000 b/d.


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