Iran is preparing to start expanding its crude oil exports ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration in January in a clear sign it expects better bilateral relations with the U.S. during the next administration.
“Due to sanctions before the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), oil production and sales faced restrictions, but with the implementation of the deal and the lifting of sanctions, we were able to increase oil sales to more than two million barrels in a short time, and despite valuable operational tools and experience, there is still readiness today to rapidly increase further oil production,” Rouhani said during a meeting of the Iranian Cabinet’s Economic Coordination Board on Sunday.
According to a Bloomberg report citing another statement of Rouhani, Iran should be ready to return to pre-sanction production and exports within three months.
Iran ramped up its oil exports to well over 2 million bpd after it struck the so-called nuclear deal with Western powers and Russia, which obliged it t stop its uranium-enrichment program. Now, according to JP Morgan, Iran could boost oil exports to 1.2 million bpd if it strikes another deal with Biden.
This would come at the worst possible time for Iran’s fellow OPEC members and their partners led by Russia, as this 1.2 million bpd—or however much Iran ramps up—will come on top of uncontrolled growth in Libya’s oil production as the country is exempt from the OPEC+ cuts.
However, an agreement is not yet certain. Last week, Iran said it would not accept preconditions from the U.S. to restart their talks on the nuclear deal. The U.S. president-elect, on the other hand, said he would only lift the sanctions imposed on Iran by President Trump if Iran returns to “strict compliance with the nuclear deal”. In response, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Washington had its own “commitments”.