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Iran Increased Oil Exports in January: Industry Report

New information suggests that Iran’s oil production may not have fallen as much as other industry reports have speculated. The latest publication of data by the Joint Organizations Data Initiative (JODI) published on Sunday showed Iran produced 3.72 million barrels per day in January, marking the highest output since December 2008.

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The bulk of the increase went into exports, up 245,000 barrels per day (bpd) or 12 percent, when compared to the last available numbers recorded in November.

JODI, an initiative coordinated by the International Energy Forum (IEF), depends on participating member states for data collection. Iran has yet to submit data for the month of December with the previous production listing at 3.590 million barrels per day.

The IEA said in its report on March 14 that sanctions of Iran’s central bank were having “a pronounced impact on Iranian crude trade patterns” and estimated that exports “could be curtailed by around 800,000 bpd to 1 million bpd from mid-year onwards”. Total production was placed at 3.43 million bpd in January, with a further decrease to 3.38 million bpd in February.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter, reported a minor increase for JODI of 61,000 bpd in January versus a month earlier to reach 9.871 million bpd, closely in line with the IEA assessment. Exports in particular saw a larger jump, up 143,000 bpd.

Other notable changes include Russia, which saw its production drop below 10 million bpd to 9.871 million bpd, with no details available on how exports faired.

Kuwait, Libya and the United Arab Emirates, all notable players in the world oil markets, did not provide any information in time for the latest update.

The IEF met last week at a summit in Kuwait, where one of the main points of discussion among energy ministers was addressing inconsistencies and delays in data submissions from member states. More transparency, the IEF argues, would help mitigate excessive price volatility largely detrimental to long-term industry investment. The meeting, which was largely held behind closed doors, brought together producers and consumers representing some 90 percent of global supply and demand.

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Yousef Gamal El-Din is CNBC's Middle East Correspondent and contributes to the channel’s flagship shows, as well as analysis for CNBC.com.

Stay in touch with him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/youseftv @youseftv

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