|Iran's oil sales rise as sanctions pressure eases: sources||
LONDON (Reuters) - Iran's oil exports have picked up modestly in January for the third consecutive month, according to sources who track tanker movements, adding to signs that the easing of sanctions pressure on Tehran is helping its oil exports to recover.
The increase in shipments is around 50,000 barrels per day (bpd), according to one tracker company, which would take Iranian exports to around 1.2 million bpd for January and add about $150 million a month to Tehran's depleted oil revenues.
The small rise is unlikely to be a direct consequence of the easing of sanctions, which only took effect on Monday, and shippers say they are still waiting to finalize the paperwork now insurance restrictions on vessels carrying Iranian crude have been eased.
But the interim deal, which was agreed back in November in return for curbs on Iran's nuclear program, has improved sentiment and reduced risk for buyers, giving Iranian exports a much-needed boost in the months since.
A second tracking source familiar with Iran's shipments, who estimated an increase of 60,000 bpd in January, said he had seen a pick-up "especially in India".
"China's purchases remain firm, with Turkish imports at around 105,000 barrels per day. Syria is still picking up modest cargoes," the source said.
A sustained increase in exports from Iran, as well as a recovery in Libyan exports, could weigh on oil prices in 2014. So far, though, the rise in Iranian supplies is modest and restricted to existing customers, mostly in Asia.
One major Chinese buyer said their December-January import requirements would hold steady, while a separate buyer said they were expected to have raised imports since November to top up on cuts from previous months.
A source with a Japanese buyer of Iranian oil said import volumes were likely to remain steady in the coming months.
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