An Iranian oil tanker is seen floating on the Caspian Sea, as Iranian President Mohammad Khatami attends the opening ceremony 29 April 2004, of the Neka oil terminal on the Caspian Sea. (AFP)

September 12, 2019

Data received by Radio Farda show that the combined onshore Iranian oil inventories and floating storage have spiked to near all-time highs just under 120 million barrels.

The data provided on Wednesday, September 11, by data intelligence firm Kpler show that the volume of unsold Iranian crude oil in the past four months, from May 1 to August 31, has doubled, with 70% of it floating on high seas.

Based on estimates presented by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, during the previous round of sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic (2012-2016), the total of Iranian crude oil stored on the ground or floating in the hope of finding a buyer was only 55 million barrels.

In May 2018, President Donald Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers and reimposed two batches of backbreaking sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Trump, who has been more inflexible than his predecessor Barack Obama in applying the sanctions, recently refused to extend waivers for some countries to continue buying Iranian oil.

President Trump and his team have repeatedly asserted that they aim to push Iranian oil exports to zero.

The data provided by Kpler indicate that Washington has almost succeeded to stop Tehran from exporting crude oil. During the past month, the Islamic Republic only managed to load 180,000 barrels of Iranian crude and present at the markets, Kpler’s data note.

However, almost half of the load, i.e., 69,000 barrels, has been stored in Chinese facilities and does not count as exported crude.

Therefore, last August was a real nightmare for the Islamic Republic to export Iranian crude, Tehran hoped that China might come to rescue.

That expectation never happened, Kpler’s data indicate. Imports of Iranian crude into the worl’s number two economic powerhouse finished the month at just 138,000 barrels per day, easily marking the weakest level this year.

Some 69,000 barrels per day of this total, Kpler says, ended up discharging into the Jinzhou Underground SPR, a popular destination for Iranian crude following the end to sanctions waivers in May of this year.

Syria and Turkey took in all remaining import volumes (89,000 barrels per day). It is notable that in the past three months, Syria has become a regular recipient of Iranian crude with arrivals consistently holding at 33,000 barrels per day.

Before the sanctions, Turkey used to import 200,000 barrels of the Iranian crude, every day.

Iran has been pushing Europe to buy Iranian crude and some of its officials have suggested a deal for 700 bpd but Europe has indicated it will not make any trade or financial deal with Tehran unless Washington agrees.

So far Trump has not indicated a willingness to make a partial deal, allowing some wiggle room for Iran in exchange for talks on the nuclear program and other issues. But he and his administration have indicated a willingness to negotiate. Some reports speak of a possible meeting between Trump and the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani this month at the UN General Assembly annual meeting.

Radio Farda

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.