DUBAI Jan 7 Iran's earnings from oil have
slumped by 45 percent since last March and are not likely to
rise over the next three months, Iranian Oil Minister Rostam
Qasemi told a parliamentary budget committee on Monday,
according to Iran's ISNA news agency.
Qasemi has until now played down any impact of Western
restrictions on oil sales but he told Iranian MPs that sales
volumes had fallen by 40 percent over the last nine months while
earnings had dropped 45 percent, ISNA quoted a budget and
planning committee spokesman as saying.
Iranian officials do not expect any improvement in oil
earnings before the end of the current Iranian year in late
March and foresee only a modest rise in exports after that.
"It is estimated that oil exports next (Iranian) year will
reach 1.5 million bpd," committee spokesman Gholam Reza Kateb
was quoted by ISNA as saying after a presentation by Qasemi.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that Iranian
oil exports fell from 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd) at the
end of 2011 to just 860,000 bpd in September 2012, as the United
States and European Union stepped up efforts to starve Tehran of
funds for its disputed nuclear programme by pressuring Iran's
mainly Asian customers to buy less.
The IEA estimates that Iranian exports recovered to 1.3
million bpd in October as China and South Korea bought more oil
ahead of winter. But Iranian production fell back to its lowest
level since 1988 in December and exports dipped again because of
Qasemi has previously publically denied any significant
reduction in production or exports.
But the semi-official Fars news agency reported in November
that Iran's state budget for the next fiscal year may assume
exports of just 1 million bpd, which implies Iran expects to
make around $110 million less every day from oil sales than
before sanctions tightened in early 2012.
The United States and many of its allies accuse Iran of
enriching uranium to levels used in nuclear weapons. Iran says
its atomic programme is solely for peaceful purposes.