Iran’s president says oil exports have doubled since August

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s president said Monday the country is exporting twice as much oil as when he took office in August, despite tough sanctions on oil exports imposed by the United States.

Ebrahim Raisi made the claim in a live interview on state television without giving further details, including on the amount of oil being exported.

“Oil sales have doubled,” he said. “We are not worried about oil sales.”

Raisi’s comments came as international markets seek alternatives to Russian crude following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent Western sanctions. Iran’s crude, with a composition similar to that of Russia, competes in the oil market.

As a result of the war and supply concerns, oil prices have risen to multi-year highs. International benchmark Brent crude almost touched $140 in March, adding to the challenge of enforcing sanctions. Brent was trading at more than $105 a barrel on Monday.

The oil windfall has been a boon to Iran’s public finances. Iran says it is now selling billions of dollars more crude than before despite US sanctions.

The Central Bank of Iran released statistics in early February that suggested it made $18.6 billion in oil sales in the first half of this Persian year, up from $8.5 billion in the same period last year, according to the state-run newspaper. IRAN. Much of that oil is believed to be headed for China. Venezuela has also received Iranian tankers at its ports.

Javad Owji, Iran’s oil minister, told local media in April that the country’s oil exports had risen 40% since Raisi took office.

Four years ago, then-President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with world powers and imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran, including against its oil sector, the lifeblood of its economy. Iran’s crude exports plummeted and international oil companies canceled deals with Tehran, weakening its economy.

The nuclear deal saw Tehran drastically limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions, including those targeting its crucial oil sales.

Negotiations in Vienna on restoring the tattered deal nearly came to an end in early March, but the talks stalled. The negotiators have not yet met again in the Austrian capital. The coordinator of the European Union talks is expected to arrive in Tehran later this week in a last-ditch effort to break the deadlock.

Iran has made the sanctions-hit oil industry a central issue in negotiations with the aim of getting to the point where Iranian oil is sold easily and without barriers.

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