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Official Says Iran Could Raise Oil Output Swiftly

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Mideast Iran Oil

Iran could ramp up its oil production to 4 million barrels per day within about three months if US sanctions are lifted, and this would enable the country to double its exports, a senior Iranian official told Energy Intelligence.

"Once the sanctions are lifted Iran can increase its production to 4 million b/d from the current level of around 2.5 million b/d," the official said.

Exports could be doubled, he added, with Tehran planning to use oil currently held in floating storage to expedite the process of shipping it to overseas customers.

The official declined to say how much crude is presently being exported and how much Iran holds in floating storage.

However, data from Facts Global Energy indicated that Iran's combined onshore and floating stocks at the end of 2021 amounted to 93 million barrels of crude, 118 million bbl of condensate and 140 million bbl of products. Those totals included 66 million bbl of condensate and 5 million bbl of crude in floating storage.

The rapid increase in production and exports set out by the Iranian official is faster than the most optimistic of three scenarios drawn up by Energy Intelligence, under which it would take until June 2023 for Iran's output to reach 4 million b/d.

There have been growing signs that negotiations in Vienna could yield an agreement to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and lift sanctions on Iran's oil industry within days or weeks. However, it's also possible that the talks could still fail.

Western officials have warned that a deal would have to be struck soon or not at all because Iran is getting close to developing a nuclear weapons capability — which the 2015 deal sought to prevent.

Former President Donald Trump pulled the US out of that agreement in 2018, and Iran then refused to comply with the constraints it had previously accepted on its nuclear program.

Outstanding Issues

The official struck an optimistic note, saying he expects a deal to be reached in Vienna before the start of the Iranian New Year on Mar. 21.

He said all of the major components of a deal have been discussed, while the remaining outstanding issues include the lifting of a freeze on Iranian assets, US/Iran prisoner exchanges and waivers related to foreign investment in Iran.

Iran has also demanded a guarantee that a new deal would survive beyond the current US administration led by President Joe Biden. The official said Iran was aware that it would be difficult to secure such a guarantee.

In the meantime Iran has been talking to South Korea and other potential buyers of its crude in Asia to gauge their interest in resuming imports.

Iran to Resist Opec-Plus Quota

Iranian officials have also emphasized in recent weeks that the lifting of sanctions would boost global oil supplies and exert some downward pressure on oil prices, which are currently trading above $90 per barrel.

The US and other consumer nations have urged Opec-plus producers to increase their oil production, but delegates say there are presently no plans to boost output beyond the agreed monthly increases of 400,000 b/d.

Energy Intelligence understands that some members of the alliance may ask Iran to accept a production quota as part of the Opec-plus supply management effort.

But Iranian officials have rejected the idea of accepting constraints on Iran's production before the country's output returns to pre-sanctions levels.

Asked whether that means Iran would be willing to accept a quota after three months, the Iranian official said that in addition to reaching its prior production level, Iran would also need to make up for losses incurred during years of sanctions.

That would appear to imply that Iran might not accept an Opec-plus quota for a considerable period of time.

The official said this matter will be discussed at future Opec-plus meetings after sanctions have been lifted.

Topics:
Oil Supply, Sanctions, Opec-Plus Supply , Opec/Opec-Plus
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