Iran tweaks crude tactics
Iran has adopted new tactics and new destinations in shipping its oil exports following the re-imposition of US sanctions, a senior Iranian maritime official was quoted as saying on Saturday by the semi-official ILNA news agency.
“The oil ministry’s tactics in exporting oil and petroleum products have changed, ... and perhaps the destinations of oil cargoes from our ports have changed,” Hadi Haqshenas, maritime affairs deputy director at Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organisation, told ILNA.
Haqshenas gave no details of the new tactics or destinations.
Iranian crude oil exports have fallen in May to 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) or lower, tanker data showed and industry sources said, after the United States tightened the screws on Tehran’s main source of income, deepening global supply losses.
Iranian exports have become more opaque since the US re-imposed sanctions in November after pulling out of a 2015 nuclear accord between Tehran and six world powers.
Tehran no longer reports its production figures to the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and there is no definitive information on exports.
“Of course, it cannot be denied that the loading of oil and products has fallen compared to the past, but the shipping of oil cargoes from out ports has definitely not stopped,” Haqshenas said, without giving figures.
Exxon evacuates staff
Exxon Mobil has evacuated all of its foreign staff from Iraq’s West Qurna 1 oilfield and is flying them out to Dubai, a senior Iraqi official and three other sources told Reuters on Saturday.
Production at the oilfield was not affected by the evacuation and work is continuing normally, overseen by Iraqi engineers, state-owned South Oil Company chief Ihsan Abdul Jabbar said, adding that production remains at 440,000 barrels per day (bpd).
“Exxon Mobil’s evacuation is a precautionary and temporary measure. We have no indication over any dangers, the situation is secure and very stable at the oilfield which is running at full capacity and producing 440,000 bpd,” he said.
“The foreign engineers will provide advice and perform their duties from the company’s Dubai offices and we have no concerns at all,” Jabbar said, adding that production is managed by Iraqi engineers and the foreign staff were there mainly as advisers.
The United States on Wednesday pulled non-emergency staff members from its embassy in the Iraqi capital Baghdad out of apparent concern about perceived threats from neighbouring Iran, to which Iraqi Shi’ite militias are allied.
Exxon Mobil’s staff were evacuated in several phases late on Friday and early on Saturday, either straight to Dubai or to the main camp housing foreign oil company employees in Basra province.
Those in the camp were en route to the airport on Saturday morning, sources —including an employee at a security company contracted by Exxon, Iraqi oil officials, and a staff member of a foreign oil company — said.