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Source: Al-Monitor

Aug 1, 2023

Iran's oil shipments to China triple in 3 years despite sanctions

Iran’s strengthening ties to China have prompted some senators to call for more sanctions.

BY Adam Lucente

Iran’s oil exports to China have tripled in the past three years, a data analytics firm said on Monday, despite Western sanctions that are imposed on the country.

Iran’s crude oil shipments to China amounted to an average of approximately 324,000 barrels per day in 2020, and rose to approximate averages of 584,000 and 770,000 bpd in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

That figure has reached an average of around 1.1 million bpd from January through July of this year, according to the London-based Kpler.

Press TV, Tasnim News Agency and other Iranian media also reported the figures.

Why it matters: Iran is becoming increasing reliant on China amid its economic struggles and international isolation. Ties have significantly strengthened since the United States withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran, according to a July report from the United States Institute of Peace.

Iran’s oil exports fell significantly following the US withdrawal. In 2018, exports were 2.5 million bpd. In 2020, the figure fell to as low as 100,000 bpd, according to Reuters.

In March, China brokered the agreement that resumed diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

US officials have also noted increasing Iranian oil shipments to China. In January, US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley said that is the “main destination” of “illicit” Iranian oil exports.

US sanctions on Iran prohibit deals with the Islamic Republic’s energy industry.

Though ties are strengthening, Iran and China have been close for some time. China has been Iran’s top trading partner for 10 straight years as of 2022, the Chinese state media outlet Xinhua reported in February.

Know more: A group of Republicans in the US Senate are pushing for more sanctions over Iranian oil sales to China. The senators sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken to this end earlier this month.

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