US optimistic about talks with Iran's crude buyers
Washington, 22 July (Argus) — US officials are optimistic they will be able to limit Iran's crude sales as negotiations over Tehran's nuclear program continue for another four months, a top US State Department's energy diplomat said today.
Deputy assistant secretary of state for energy diplomacy Amos Hochstein said US officials will meet with diplomats from Iran's oil purchasing nations in coming days to discuss how to respond to the decision to extend nuclear negotiations until 24 November.
"I have no reason to be anything but optimistic," Hochstein said, after appearing before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee subcommittee.
Negotiators from Iran and six global powers – the US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany – agreed on 18 July to extend an initial, six month agreement to give the parties a chance to negotiate a comprehensive nuclear agreement.
In the wake of the first agreement, US officials told Iran's oil buyers – China, India, Japan, South Korea, Turkey and Taiwan – that Washington would not object to monthly fluctuations in purchases of Iranian oil, as long as Iran's crude exports, over that six-month, averaged 1mn-1.1mn b/d. But that figures does not include Iranian condensate exports.
Hochstein said US officials believe Iran's crude exports have remained at that level.
During the initial six months, which ended on 20 July, the global powers granted Iran access to $4.2bn in oil proceeds locked in up in other countries, in exchange for some nuclear concessions. Under the new deal, Iran will retrieve an additional $2.8bn from those restricted accounts.
Iran is Opec's third largest oil producer, with wellhead production that averaged 2.82mn b/d in June, down from 2.85mn b/d in May.
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