Iran Finding Ways to Skirt US Sanctions, Oil Exports Rising

Oil trackers estimate Iran's exports have doubled this year

With US sanctions strangling Iran’s economy, the Islamic Republic has been looking for ways to export oil and get around the sanctions. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Iran has been successful in increasing its oil exports this year.

Several firms that track the oil trade estimate Tehran’s oil exports have roughly doubled from the beginning of the year, although the numbers and estimates greatly vary. Since Iran’s oil trade is meant to avoid detection by the US, tracking it is difficult.

One of the higher-end estimates comes from the US-based firm According to the website, Iran oil exports hit 1.2 million barrels per day (BPD), compared to 481,000 BPD in February.

SVB International, a Washington-based firm, said Iran exported 585,000 BPD in November, up from 230,000 in early 2020. Petro-Logistics recorded an increase in exports to about 447,000 BPD, from 222,000.

One of Iran’s top customers is China. According to Beijing’s official numbers, China imported 62,000 BPD from Iran in October, up from zero in June. Other Asian countries are believed to be buying Iranian oil, as Tehran is offering discounts on its supply.

One partnership that has irked Washington is the growing trade relationship between Iran and Venezuela. Iran has been selling gasoline to Venezuela in exchange for gold, a form of payment US sanctions cannot touch. Since both nations are so heavily sanctioned by the US, they have nothing to lose in trading with each other. An Iranian tanker was reported to be in Venezuela this week, unloading 1.9 million barrels of crude oil.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.