TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran cut its crude sales to North Asia by 26 percent compared with the first quarter, and 21 percent versus a year ago.
This equated to some 350,000 bpd less of Iranian crude heading to the region. It came as demand was limited for Iran’s heaviest grades, Iran Heavy and Forouzan.
Crude oil exports to North Asia slid by 785,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the second quarter from the first due to seasonal plant maintenance, while prices above $100 prompted refiners to import less and draw on inventories.
The July-September quarter could show further falls, as refiners start cutting runs amid falling margins, traders said.
“Imports dropped mainly due to refinery maintenance. But a second reason is decreasing demand,” a trader with a North Asian refiner said.
Industry sources estimated 15 Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs), carrying some 30 million barrels of Iranian crude stored offshore in May, but Iranian officials said that the country’s glut of crude that has been in floating storage off its southern Persian Gulf coast near Kharg Island shrank to a large extent by early August.
“It now stands at less than three million barrels,” Ali Asghar Arshi, executive director for international affairs at Iran’s state oil firm NIOC, said, adding that the remaining crude in storage would be sold by the end of the month.