Iran oil exports highest since nuclear deal at 2.7 million bpd

FILE PHOTO: Gas flares from an oil production platform at the Soroush oil fields in the Persian Gulf, south of the capital Tehran, July 25, 2005. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/File Phot

LONDON (Reuters) - Iran’s oil exports hit 2.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in May, the Oil Ministry’s news agency SHANA reported on Saturday, a new record since the lifting of international sanctions on Tehran in 2016, and despite the threats of fresh U.S. sanctions.

U.S. President Donald Trump on May 8 said the United States was exiting a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and would impose new sanctions that seek to reduce the country’s oil shipments.

Iran exported 2.4 million bpd of crude oil in May, SHANA reported, and 300,000 bpd of natural gas condensate.

Iran’s oil exports was 2.6 bpd in April.

The estimates from Geneva-based Petro-Logistics suggested this week that Iranian oil buyers are not rushing to cut volumes from OPEC’s third-largest producer. The U.S. sanctions have a 180-day period during which buyers should “wind down” purchases.

The bulk of Iran’s crude exports, at least 1.8 million bpd, goes to Asia. Most of the rest goes to Europe and these volumes are seen by analysts and traders as the more vulnerable to being curbed by U.S. sanctions.

European powers still see the nuclear accord as the best chance of stopping Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and have intensified efforts to save the pact.

Iran’s top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on May 23 that European powers must protect Iranian oil sales from U.S. sanctions, and continue buying Iranian crude, if they want Tehran to stay in the nuclear deal.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said this week that he was hopeful that an agreement with Europe would inspire other potential buyers of Iranian oil.

Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by Andrew Bolton