Increasingly hard-pressed to find buyers for its petroleum, Iran has been routinely switching off satellite tracking systems on its sea-bound oil tankers for more than a month, in what U.S. officials and industry analysts describe as a cat-and-mouse game with Western governments seeking to enforce sanctions on Iranian exports.
Estimates of Iranian crude added to floating storage in March and April have ranged from 450,000 to 800,000 barrels a day, the IEA said. An additional 20 million to 25 million barrels have been added to onshore storage facilities in recent months.
While countries such as Turkey and South Africa appear to have ramped up imports from Iran ahead of the July 1 sanctions deadline, some of Iran’s biggest customers, including Japan and South Korea, have been gradually reducing Iranian crude imports. Europe has cut its imports from Iran to less than half its earlier level of 700,000 barrels a day.
In addition, India has trimmed its oil purchases from Iran, which last year covered 10 percent of India’s oil consumption.