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Iran awaits lift of sanctions to resume crude exports

Tehran: Iran has signed a preliminary document with South Africa to resume its oil exports when the western sanctions against Tehran are lifted, a senior Iranian oil official was quoted as saying by Press TV on Wednesday.

“An initial document has been signed by the two sides but since South Africa’s crude oil import terminals belong to international companies such as Shell, exports are not possible for now because of sanctions,” director for international affairs of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) Mohsen Qamsari said on Wednesday.

South Africa is among the countries negotiating to resume oil imports from Iran, Qamsari said, adding that the African country will most probably receive the first shipments of Iranian crude oil after the sanctions are removed.

Under pressure from Western countries, South Africa halted imports of Iranian oil as of June 2012 as a result of sanctions over Iran’s nuclear programme. Iran had been South Africa’s largest supplier of crude oil with 380,000 barrels per day (bpd).

Following the international talks in July, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear programme in exchange for lifting of Western economic, financial and energy sanctions. The deal with six world powers paved way for South Africa to resume oil imports from Iran.

Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, Nomaindiya Mfeketo, recently led a delegation to Iran on a working visit, during which she held bilateral discussions with Iranian officials with the aim of expanding and consolidating political, economic and cultural ties.

On Wednesday, Qamsari also said that Iran will stick to its traditional arrangement of 60 percent of its oil sales to Asia after the sanctions are removed. India, Japan, South Korea, China and Indonesia were among the Asian importers of Iran’s crude oil.

Iran, as a member of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), exported nearly three million bpd of crude oil before Western sanctions which have forced Iran to drop its exports to one million bpd since 2013.

Iran has said that it would officially unveil new contracts for its oil sales at a conference in London in December. Iran’s Oil Ministry has also said that it will rise oil exports by 500,000 bpd within two months and by one million bpd within seven months after the removal of sanctions.