Sajjadul Islam Sourobh ## With the U.S. campaign of “maximum pressure” now over, Iran’s oil customers may be growing a little bolder.
Iranian crude remains subject to American sanctions and exports are still just a fraction of levels seen three years ago, before Donald Trump cracked down to cajole Tehran into renegotiating a nuclear pact. But as new president Joe Biden seeks to revive the existing accord, firms that monitor Iran’s output — Petro-Logistics SA, Kpler Ltd. and SVB International LLC — have seen it creep higher.
“The output and export increase is an anticipation of Biden’s softer approach toward Iran,” said Sara Vakhshouri, SVB’s founder and president.
Estimated profits – which remain initial – are not huge, ranging from about 30,000 to 50,000 barrels a day in January. This is far less than the great announcement by Iranian officials, who said last week that exports had risen “dramatically” and could return to previous levels in two months.
The image remains opaque because Iranian ships usually remove transponders that reveal their location. And the ongoing problem for Tehran was illustrated this weekend when Indonesia detained an Iranian-flagged ship for illegally transferring oil to another ship.
Yet the increased profits on shipments are growing. According to Petro-Logistics, Iranian exports in December were at their highest since March and will exceed 600,000 barrels a day this month for the first time since April 2019. SVB estimates that flows have increased by 45% since October.