Iran conceded Wednesday that its oil exports have dropped 20-30 percent from normal volumes of 2.2 million barrels daily.
Admitting exports have fallen substantially is a new tack from Tehran, which until now has denied that the US and European sanctions targeting its vital oil industry and central bank have had an impact.
Customers in Europe and Asia have been scaling back purchases of Iranian crude ahead of European Union bans on imports and tanker insurance for ships carrying Iranian crude that are due to come into effect on July 1.
National Iranian Oil Company official Mohammad Ali Emadi told reporters crude exports were 2.2 million bpd, in line with external estimates. A 20-30 percent fall would put Iranian exports at 1.54-1.76 million bpd, off 440-660,000 bpd.
That is still above most third-party estimates which put Iran’s crude exports in June at about 1.3 million bpd.
“We gradually started to reduce. It is not because of the sanctions but sometime regarding overhaul maintenance of the wells,” Emadi said, insisting international sanctions aimed at forcing Tehran to give up its controversial uranium enrichment program were not the cause.
“It was 20 to 30 percent we reduce regarding our export,” he added. “Some part of the reduction is shifting for the refinery internally.”