Imports of Iranian crude rose by 100,000 barrels a day last month, with China, Japan and India taking more oil as a deal easing sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program took effect,” the IEA said in a report on Thursday.
The IEA said that the purchasing countries received 1.32 million barrels a day in January.
“An increase in the number of barrels shipped to the three Asian importers more than made up for reduced deliveries to South Korea, Syria and Taiwan,” it said.
An interim accord easing restrictions on insurance for Iran’s oil shipments and freeing up cash held outside the country in return for Iran’s more cooperation to address Western concerns over its nuclear program went into effect last month.
Under the agreement, six buyers permitted under US sanctions to take Iranian crude don’t have to cut imports to avoid penalties.
Iran had an estimated 30 million barrels of crude held on tankers at the end of January, including 6 million barrels in vessels off China’s coast, according to the report.
Total production rose by 30,000 barrels to 2.78 million last month, as cold winter weather in Iran boosted domestic fuel use.
The six buyers permitted to import Iranian crude under US sanctions are Turkey, China, Japan, India, South Korea and Taiwan. The crude buyers are still barred from increasing purchases, and no other states can take Iranian oil, according to the US sanctions.
Iran and the Sextet of world powers are scheduled to hold the next round of their nuclear talks in the Austrian capital, Vienna, on February 18.
The meeting will come in light of the implementation of an interim nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers which was clinched in the Swiss city of Geneva last November.
Under the deal, Iran agreed to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities as a confidence-building measure, and the world powers undertook to provide Iran with some sanctions relief and release more than $4bln of Tehran’s oil revenues.
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