Opec heavyweights and political rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia have a long history of competing for market share both in Europe and the Far East. Tehran was hit hard by the imposition of international sanctions in 2012, but it has been making moves since they were removed in late January to recapture its lost market share.

It is entering a crowded marketplace. Saudi Arabia has notched up a record 16 straight months of 10mn b/d-plus output, with 10.26mn b/d for May, according to the latest official figures (MEES, 24 June). And Iraqi exports have soared by 800,000 b/d over the past two years, averaging 3.3mn b/d for the first five months of 2015 and hitting a series of new export records in the process. (CONTINUED - 1623 WORDS)