Iran stores more oil on tankers as it counts days to enter markets

Iran could quickly export millions of barrels of oil it is holding in storage if it reaches a deal with the United States on its nuclear programme and has been moving oil into place to prepare for an eventual restart, four traders and industrial sources said.

The US and Iran began in mid-June their sixth round of indirect talks on reviving a 2015 nuclear deal that former US President Donald Trump pulled out of in 2018. Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran’s energy sector, leading refiners in many countries to shun Iranian crude and forcing Tehran to pump well below capacity.

Iran sits on the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves and relies heavily on oil revenues. If and when the administration of US President Joe Biden and the Iranian government agree a deal that results in the lifting of sanctions, Iran plans to increase output to 3.8 million barrels per day (bpd) from the current 2.1 million bpd, according to oil ministry officials.

That would return the country’s production level to where it was before the sanctions, but would take time because of years of low investment in mature oilfields and heavily reduced output.

As a stopgap measure while it works on boosting production, the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) is expected to export from onshore and offshore storage that contains as much as 200 million barrel, according to energy consultancy and monitoring firms.

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