Iran says oil exports at 1m bpd, below IEA estimate

Statement marks reversal of previous claims that the West is underestimating oil flows

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Iran said it was exporting much less crude than the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimate of around 1.65 million bpd sales in February, a reversal of its previous statements that the West is underestimating its flows.

Iran’s oil exports have remained around 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in early 2014, Ali Majedi, Iran’s deputy oil minister for international trade, said on Monday.

Under an interim deal signed in November and in effect since Jan. 20 between Iran and six world powers - known as the P5+1 – Iran’s exports are supposed to be held to an average 1 million bpd through July 20.

The IEA’s latest monthly report revised February’s crude imports from Iran upwards by 240,000 bpd to 1.65 million bpd, the highest since June 2012.

“(Iran is exporting) around 1 million barrels per day - more or less - in February and March,” he told Reuters.

Asked about the IEA estimate, Majedi said: “I don’t think so,” adding that Iran’s oil exports had hovered around 1 million bpd for the last six months.

While recognizing a rise in Iranian exports in early 2014, the U.S. government has said it expects sales to fall in coming months and average 1 million bpd over the six-month interim deal period.

Rising Iranian oil sales have produced surprisingly little criticism so far from the West amid a worsening stand-off with another key energy exporter, Russia, over its annexation of Crimea.

In the latter half of the last decade Iran was pumping around 4 million bpd, but tough international sanctions over the past two years have cut Iran’s oil production and exports by about half.

Despite ongoing restrictions on any western investments in Iran’s energy industry, Majedi told the Middle East Petroleum and Gas Conference in Dubai that Iran hopes to increase its oil production to 5 million bpd by 2018.