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IRGC-Linked Fars Strongly Denies Iran's Oil Exports To China Declined

IRGC-linked news agency Fars has reacted to a recent statement by the Tehran chamber of commerce denying that Iran's oil exports to China have declined in recent months.

The strongly worded report by Fars on September 25 came after a report published by the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Trade and Mining, and a tweet by the TCCTM Chief Massoud Khansari  who said Iran's oil exports to China have dropped from $9.5 billion in 2018 (before full US sanctions) to less than $11 million during the first seven months of 2021.

Fars ruled out the TCCTM report as "misleading" and "a distortion of reality." Fars further accused Iran's reformist press of taking advantage of these reports to "wrongly" assess that based on an average price of $50 per barrel, Iran has exported only 220,000 barrels of crude oil to China during the first 7 months of 2021.

The estimate puts the volume of monthly oil exports by Iran to China at 31,000 barrels. In other words, according to the reformist press, Iran has exported 1,000 barrels of oil to China on a daily basis, Fars News Agency said.

Fars also accused media outlets close to Iran's reformists of concluding that even China has refused to cooperate with Iran as a sanctioned state and the only way out for Iran is negotiating and giving concessions to the United States and that some conservatives who are benefitting from the sanctions are responsible for the decline in Iran's oil export and the losses incurred by Tehran.

Fars also quoted Khansari as having said in his tweet that not only Iran's oil exports to China have dropped sharply, but other countries have taken over Iran’s market share.

According to the Iranian Chamber of Commerce, Saudi Arabia's oil exports to China during the first seven months of 2021 reached $23 billion, which is 2,000 times more than Iran's oil exports to China during the same period.

Fars charged that all the figures presented by the TCCTM are wrong and have not been attributed to any source. The IRGC-affiliated website added that under US sanctions, Iran exports its oil to China and other countries "secretly and far from US monitoring." Fars further claimed that shipping and navigation monitoring agencies cannot monitor Iran's oil shipments.

The agency said that foreign media refer to Iran's oil export network as "ghost tankers" while acknowledging Iran's secrecy. Fars also said that part of the oil shipments from Iran sail under other flags such as those of Malaysia and Indonesia, therefore, even the statistics given away be the Chines customs are not reliable. 

According to the Chinese Customs, no Iranian oil has reached China during the first seven months of 2021, Fars claimed.

Meanwhile, it quoted Reuters as having reported that based on Tanker Trackers' data, the destination of almost half of Iran's exported oil is not clear as they are transferred from ship to ship at various stages. Fars further questioned the Chamber of Commerce's figures about Iran's oil export to China.

Fars further claimed that the secrecy about Iran's oil shipment to China is handled in coordination with the Chinese authorities.

According to the Iranian Plan and Budget Organization, Iran has exported between 300 to 500 thousand barrels of oil per day to China in 2020. However, Iran has given away no figures about its oil export in 2021. Tracking companies have estimated Iran's oil export during the past year as 320,000 barrels per day.

Fars has put the figure at 1.5 million barrels per day, claiming that Iran's oil exports to China have redoubled in 2021 compared to the previous year. However, Fars did not mention how much Iran has earned and whether it has managed to repatriate its oil money.

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