An Iranian oil tanker starting its journey near a loading dock in August 2021.

An Iranian oil tanker starting its journey near a loading dock in August.

Iran Claims More Oil Exports Have Boosted Economic Growth

12/24/2021

Author: Mardo Soghom

Iran has been able to boost oil exports to the extent that it has helped the economy grow by 3.3 percent this year, the government's news website said Friday.

The Islamic Republic News Agency, IRNA said that in the first six monthsof last Iranian year economic growth was 1.8 percent and because of more oil sales it reached 3.3 percent since March 21, when the new calendar year started.

The fact that Iran is selling more oil in 2021 has been reported by international oil trade and shipping monitoring firms, such as Kpler, that has said Iran this year is selling twice as much oil as in 2020.

Iran’s oil exports dropped from more than 2 million barrels per day in 2016-2017 to less than 200,000 in 2019, but started to grow in September 2020, before the US presidential election. No one can say with any certainty how much Tehran is exporting but estimates say volumes reach over 600,000 barrels per day.

Some have argued that this is because of less enforcement by the Biden Administration that has been indirectly negotiating with Iran since April trying to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement. The Administration denies it has been looking the other way, but somehow Tehran is shipping more oil primarily to China via middlemen and using illicit tactics.

China officially does not report any oil imports from Iran, because it is usually diverted through third countries and imported into China as originating from countries such as Malaysia, Iraq or the United Arab Emirates.

Over decades of various sanctions Iran has developed complex ways of circumvention and only diligent and determined pursuit can slow its illicit exports.

But the illicit methods also mean Iran sells the oil with a deep discount and middlemen also make hefty profits. Moreover, because of US banking sanctions Tehran often imports vital goods instead of receiving dollars for the oil.

The claim of 3.3 percent economic growth by IRNA cannot be independently verified and no details are mentioned in the report. In fact, other media in Iran, still under government censorship, sound dire warnings about the state of the economy, often through interviews with local experts and politicians who are currently out of power.

The national currency, rial, has fallen by more than 20 percentjust since August when President Ebrahim Raisi took office. This is indicative of a foreign currency shortage and the government’s reluctance to support the rial with limited reserves it controls.

The IRNA report is one of many other government claims, coming on daily basis, that that the Raisi Administration is hard at work and producing results, while except his hardliner supporters everyone else criticizes lack of progress in solving the economic crisis.

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