Asia is Purchasing Nearly all of Iran’s Oil
From The Diplomat
By Zachary Keck
Four Asian countries are now purchasing nearly all of Iran’s oil exports according a report this week from the Economist’s Intelligence Unit (EIU).
“Almost all of Iran’s oil exports now go to China, South Korea, Japan and India,” the report said even as it noted a sharp decline in the amount of oil each country purchased from Iran during 2012.
Iran’s oil exports have been cut in half as a result of U.S. and EU sanctions that were enacted last year to pressure Tehran into making concessions on its nuclear program, which the West believes is aimed at acquiring a nuclear weapons capability but Iran claims is intended solely for peaceful purposes.
Oil exports make up 80% of Iran’s total export earnings and 50-60% of government revenue according to the EIU report. Iran’s government budget for the current fiscal year ending in March forecasted oil exports of 2.2 million barrels a day (b/d). The International Energy Administration (IEA) recently estimated sales of around 1.1 million b/d, resulting in monthly losses of $5 billion for Iran according to a widely cited estimate. The sanctions and the Islamic Republic’s habitual economic mismanagement have also combined to send Iran’s currency plunging in value over the last six months.
With many of Iran’s oil customers bowing to Western sanctions, Iran’s dependence on the four Asian countries has grown substantially. Tehran has become especially dependent on China, which has long been its primary trading partner. Still, China is now estimated to purchase roughly 50% of Iran’s total oil exports despite having decreased its oil imports from Tehran by 23% year-on-year through the first 11 months of 2012.
India has similarly seen its reliance on Iranian crude decline sharply, with year-on-year imports down 17% in the first 8 months of 2012. Indian officials have also suggested they plan to cut imports by an additional 10-15% in 2013.
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