LONDON - Iranian oil exports have not dropped further in May after falling sharply since March, industry sources said on Tuesday, because core customers in Europe and Asia continue to buy ahead of European sanctions aimed at slowing Tehran's nuclear program.
Crude exports from Iran appear to be holding steady at around 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd), according to a firm that tracks oil shipments. A source at a leading European oil company and another industry source also said shipments were little changed so far this month.
Last year, Iranian crude exports were running at about 2-2.2 million bpd with total production, including domestic consumption, at 3.5-3.6 million.
The lack of a significant drop in shipments in May contrasts with declines in March and April and indicates that while many countries have said they will buy less Iranian oil in response to tightening Western sanctions, they have yet to do so.
"Exports in May are looking steady," said one of the sources, who declined to be identified. "I think it has come down to the core customers who are continuing to buy."