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Iran's oil industry must turn to West

Staff writer |
Asian buyers that are Iran's biggest oil clients cut their purchases by 15% in 2013 and are not expected to ramp up shipments quickly, despite the easing of sanctions that have curbed exports by more than half.

China, India, Japan and South Korea together cut imports from Iran to an average of 935,862 barrels per day (bpd) in 2013, government and industry data showed. That would mean an oil revenue loss of $46 billion for Tehran across the year, based on pre-sanction crude exports of about 2.2 million bpd.

A breakthrough agreement between Tehran and six world powers in November allows the OPEC member to keep exports at the current reduced levels of about 1 million bpd, and opens a door for lifting shipments later.

Any increase from Iran would weigh on oil prices after other OPEC producers like Saudi Arabia increased exports to fill the gap created by the Western sanctions, as well as by outages in Libya and Iraq, but some doubt how soon the Middle Eastern nation could return its exports to pre-2012 levels.

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