Drop in Iran's exports continues
By Dalga Khatinoglu, Energy Analyst
Both oil and non-oil exports of Iran decreased significantly during the first month of the new solar year, which started in March, while transferring export revenues into the country is facing further challenges.
According to a report of the local news agency ISNA, released on May 14, Iran's non-oil exports (including gas condensates) in the first Iranian calendar month of Farvardin (March 21-April 20) dropped by 11.1 percent to $2.497 billion compared to the same period in the past year.
The plunge in export occurred while Iran targeted $59 billion (about $5 billion per month) worth of non-oil export for the current solar year.
Iran's oil exports during the last two months have decreased compared to previous months as well.
In March 2013, the export of Iranian oil dropped to the lowest mark since 1986, the last year of the Iran-Iraq war. According to Reuters, this figure made up 810,000 barrels per day, but in April, it increased to 1.08 million barrels. Iran's oil sales in 2011 constituted 2.2 million barrels per day on average (plus more than 360,000 barrels of condensate); the figure made up 1.2 million barrels per day (plus 300,000 barrels of condensate) in 2012.
Oil exports make up 80 percent of Iran's total export earnings and 50-60 percent of government revenue, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.
The Washington Post reported on May 14 that after failing to halt Iran's nuclear advances with harsh economic sanctions, a group of U.S. lawmakers and analysts is proposing a more drastic remedy: cutting off Iran entirely from world oil markets.
Iran sold condensate worth $9 billion during the last solar year, down from $10 billion posted in the previous year.
Iran refers condensate sales to the non-oil exports category. The country sold fuel oil worth $1.7 billion and diesel fuel totaling $128 million in its last calendar year.
In this period, Iran also exported $10 billion worth of petrochemical products, while in the previous year this figure was $15 billion.
During the last solar year, Iran's official turnover amounted to $94.9 billion. Iran exported $41.3 billion worth of non-oil-gas-energy (a 14 percent decrease compared to last year); imports stood at $53.3 billion, falling by 6 percent compared to the previous year.
Iran hasn't revealed statistics regarding the oil sales, but the United States Energy Information Administration said on March 28 that Iran sold $69 billion worth of crude oil and condensate; this figure was $95 billion in 2011.
According to Iranian official figures, the value of the goods brought to the country through smuggling made up $20 billion, but some members of parliament said the figure is as high as about $30 billion.
Foreign exchange reserves
In addition to the drop in the export volume, Iran is unable to bring back to the country a large amount of revenues from the oil exported last year. At the end of last year, Iranian Deputy Minister of Industries, Mines and Trade Hamid Safdel said that the volume of the Iranian funds abroad is $100 billion.
Because of the U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran this February, the countries which import Iranian oil cannot transfer the payment for oil through any foreign currency.
The exact amount of foreign currency reserves in Iran and the types of reserves (i.e.held in euros, dollars, gold, etc.) are kept confidential and also protected for security considerations.
The International Monetary Fund forecasted Iran's foreign currency reserves at $101 billion in 2011 and $84 billion last year.
The Economist Intelligence Unit estimated that in November of last year this figure was less than $70 billion.