According to industry analysts, Iran’s oil production and exports rose significantly in August despite ongoing US sanctions. Consultants and companies that track tanker shipments have reported that Iran’s success in circumventing the sanctions and the US government’s discretion in applying them contributed to this surge in exports. China remains a major buyer of Iranian oil, and analysts believe the rise in exports is a result of Iran’s ability to navigate the sanctions landscape and a desire to improve relations between the two countries.
Experts estimate that Iran’s oil production hit 3.15 million barrels per day (bpd) in August, the highest level since 2018. Crude oil and condensate exports totaled nearly 2 million bpd over the same period. This trend suggests that Iran is on track to regain pre-sanctions oil production levels. Other trackers contacted by Reuters have provided similar estimates.
Although the United States has been trying to limit Iran’s oil exports since 2018, export volumes have increased during President Joe Biden’s administration. However, the Biden administration continues to impose sanctions on Iran. The U.S. Department of State has emphasized that these numbers will fluctuate over time, depending on the methodology used.
Iran has managed to circumvent oil sanctions using a variety of tactics, including ship-to-ship transfers and the manipulation of GPS transponders. The country has also offered significant discounts on oil shipments to China, spurring demand. According to analysts and shipping data, Iranian oil is also exported to Syria and Venezuela.
The surge in Iranian oil exports could have important geopolitical implications. As the November 2024 election approaches, high oil prices pose a political risk for President Biden. Also, an expansion in global supply could lead to lower oil prices.