Iran has sold more than 13 million barrels of oil that it had long held on tankers at sea, capitalising on an OPEC output cut deal from which it is exempted. The move has helped it to regain market share and court new buyers, according to industry sources and data.
In the past three months, Tehran has sold almost half the oil it had held in floating storage, which had tied up many of its tankers as it struggled to offload stocks in an oversupplied global market. The amount of Iranian oil held at sea has dropped to 16.4 million barrels, from 29.6 million barrels at the beginning of October, according to Thomson Reuters Oil Flows data. Before that sharp drop, the level had barely changed in 2016; it was 29.7 million barrels at the start of last year, the data showed.
Unsold oil is now tying up about 12 to 14 Iranian tankers, out of its fleet of about 60 vessels, compared with around 30 in the summer, according to two tanker-tracking sources.
The oil sold in recent months has gone to buyers in Asia including China, India and South Korea, and to European countries including Italy and France, according to the sources and data.