Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh claims that Iran’s exports have risen “significantly” despite US sanctions.

“We set the highest record of exports of refined products in the history of the oil industry during the embargo period,” Zanganeh proclaimed on Friday

The minister did not give figures nor any details about the foreign countries purportedly reviving their purchases. Instead, he said, “The enemy and Trump wanted us to perish and die, our exports to reach zero, but we are alive and working with more hope to build the country.”

Since the Trump Administration imposed comprehensive sanctions in November 2018, Iran has not released official figures on oil exports.

However, oil industry and shipping analysts said the Islamic Republic’s sales dropped 80% to 95% from about 2.5 million barrels per day in April 2018, with an average assessment of about 300,000 bpd.

Analysts say there has been some recovery in recent months. Iran has also tried to ship oil to Venezuela and Syria, despite international sanctions, although it is unclear if Tehran has received any payment for the deliveries.

Tanker trackers gave estimates ranging from 447,000 to 1.2 million bpd for November.

Iran’s leading customer China has limited purchases amid the US sanctions, while India and South Korea have halted them altogether.

Tehran “Not Worried About Lost Markets”

In 2011, Iran’s revenue from crude oil sales was more than $110 billion. It was sharply reduced by UN and US sanctions before the 2015 nuclear deal, before recovering to $62 billion in 2018.

But Vice President Mohammad Baqer Nobakht said that revenues plummeted to $9 billion in 2019. .First Vice President Esh’aq Jahangiri gave a figure of $8 billion, while President Hassan Rouhani said “just over $20 billion” in September.

Majid Reza Hariri, the chairman of the Iran-China Chamber of Commerce, said in October that the 2020 total would be no more than $5 billion.

Despite the estimates, Rouhani based the Government’s 2021-2022 budget on sales of 2.3 million bpd per day.

See also Rouhani Bases Government Budget on Huge Surge in Iran’s Oil Sales

The new Biden Administration and Tehran are still distant on revival of talks over the 2015 nuclear deal, from which the Trump Administration withdrew in May 2018. President Joe Biden’s officials are calling for Iran to return to compliance and are seeking renegotiation of provisions. The Supreme Leader and the Rouhani Government say there can be no revisions and are setting a precondition of sanctions removal.

But Zanganeh declared, “If the sanctions are lifted, we will return to the market stronger than before, and faster than expected. I am not worried about the lost markets.”