Iranian state media reported on Sunday that Tehran has instructed its oil ministry to start preparing for full crude output within three months. The move is a sign that Iran is hopeful that the incoming Biden administration will lift sanctions that have crushed Iran’s oil industry and return to the 2015 nuclear deal.
“The Oil Ministry will take all the necessary steps to prepare the oil industry’s facilities to produce and sell — proportionate to the available capacity — within the next three months,” Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said.
Before the Trump administration withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018, Iran was exporting 2.8 million barrels of oil per day (BPD). Now, it is estimated that Iran only exports less than 300,000 BPD. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently boasted about the damage the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign has done to Iran’s oil sector and the economy as a whole.
Joe Biden has said he will work with Iran to return to the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). After the US unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA, Iran gave it European signatories a whole year to help offset US sanctions before gradually violating the deal. Both Rouhani and Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has said Tehran is ready to quickly return to compliance in exchange for sanctions relief.