|U.S. seeking to limit Iran’s oil sales during nuclear talks: report||
TEHRAN – U.S. officials are optimistic they will be able to limit Iran’s oil sales as talks over Tehran’s nuclear program continue for another four months, the Argus media organization quoted a top U.S. State Department’s energy diplomat as saying on Tuesday.
Deputy assistant secretary of state for energy diplomacy Amos Hochstein said U.S. officials will meet with diplomats from Iran’s oil purchasing countries in coming days to discuss how to respond to the decision to extend nuclear talks until 24 November.
“I have no reason to be anything but optimistic,” Hochstein said, after appearing before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee subcommittee.
Negotiators from Iran and the six major powers – the U.S., UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany – agreed on July 18 to extend an initial, six-month agreement to give the parties a chance to negotiate a comprehensive nuclear deal.
In the wake of the first agreement, U.S. officials told Iran’s oil buyers – China, India, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, and Taiwan – that Washington would not object to monthly fluctuations in purchases of Iranian oil, as long as Iran’s crude exports, over that six-month, averaged 1mn-1.1mn b/d. But that figures does not include Iranian condensate exports.
Hochstein said U.S. officials believe Iran’s crude exports have remained at that level.
During the initial six months, which ended on 20 July, the major powers granted Iran access to $4.2bn in oil proceeds frozen in other countries, in exchange for its agreement to scale down parts of its nuclear activities. Under the new deal, Iran will retrieve an additional $2.8bn from those restricted accounts.
Iran is OPEC’s third largest oil producer, with wellhead production that averaged 2.82mn b/d in June, down from 2.85mn b/d in May.
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