Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh is denying media reports that have depicted Iran’s oil exports as declining in the face of US sanctions, but did not offer alternate figures, according to Tehran Times, who cited IRIB.
In late May, media reported that Iran’s exports had been down month on month, more than 2 million barrels per day off their April 2018 peak of 2.5 million barrels per day. At the time, Reuters reported that Iran’s May 2019 exports plunged to just 400,000 barrels per day—a shadow of a figure that Iran now vehemently says is false.
Zanganeh did not provide different figures, adding that it was not in the country’s best interest to do it. Since the levying of sanctions by the United States, Iran has used tactics such as switching off transponders that would allow its oil exports to be quantified and tracked, making the estimates of its oil exports just that—estimates. Iran is now claiming it has new tactics to shield its exports, as well as new destinations for its oil, but failed to provide further details.
OPEC is likely struggling to come up with a game plan ahead of its July meeting in the absence of accurate data regarding Iran’s oil production and exports. A new wild card was played late last week, with Russia pledging its devotion to helping Iran export its oil, including helping with Iran’s banking sector, as Europe has so far been unable or unwilling to bring online its Instex payment system that would allow it to continue purchasing Iranian oil in defiance of US sanctions.
If Russia follows through with its commitment to assist Iran with its oil exports, or if Europe ever gets its payment system up and running, the United States will have a difficult time bringing its oil exports to zero.