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Iran may slash oil sales outlook, store more as sanctions bite

Bloomberg

By Ladane Nasseri

Iran may base its budget for the next fiscal year on anticipated exports of 1 million barrels a day of oil, half that shipped in 2011, Fars news agency reported, citing the head of the parliament’s economic committee.

The country exported an average of more than 2 million barrels a day in 2011, according to Iranian government data provided to the Joint Organisations Data Initiative, which is supervised by the Riyadh-based International Energy Forum. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has until early December to submit a budget for the Iranian year that starts March 21, Gholamreza Mesbahi-Moghadam, the committee member, told state-run Fars.

The International Energy Agency said Iranian oil exports dipped below 1 million barrels a day in July after the European Union banned purchases of the country’s crude. The IEA, an adviser to industrialized nations, estimates that Iranian exports rebounded to 1.3 million barrels in October.

Iran’s oil output, formerly the second-largest in OPEC, has dropped to fifth among the 12 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries as a result of economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its allies. The U.S. seeks to deter Iran from a nuclear program it says may be aimed at developing weapons. The Islamic republic rejects the charge and says it seeks nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Iran plans to build oil tanks and increase its crude- storage capacity in the Persian Gulf by 8.1 million barrels, state-run Press TV reported on Nov. 25. The government said in June that it set up a storage facility for 1 million barrels in southwestern Bushehr province.

Iran is disclosing storage plans as it finds fewer oil tankers available to store its unsold crude. The concentration of the maritime insurance industry in Europe means the EU sanctions imposed July 1 extend to about 95 percent of the global tanker fleet. That has left Iran more reliant on its own vessels to export crude.

The Gulf nation pumped 2.65 million barrels a day of crude in October, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.