Iran's oil exports averaged 600,000 to 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) since March despite U.S. sanctions on its energy industry, an Iranian official said on Wednesday, far exceeding estimates by agencies monitoring the country's crude sales.
One analyst said the figure could include both crude and petroleum product sales.
Iran's oil exports have shrunk from more than 2.5 million bpd since 2018, when the United States withdrew from Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers and reimposed sanctions that have hammered the country's economy.
"The average oil sales so far this (Iranian) year have been 600,000 to 700,000 barrels per day," Hamid Pourmohammadi, deputy head of the budget and planning organization, told Iran's semi-official Fars news agency, without providing further details.
The Iranian year began on March 20.
Iran does not report the amount of oil it sells while under sanctions or the methods it uses to evade sanctions.
"It seems the Iranian official is talking based on the dollar amount received by Iran and he might be mixing crude and petroleum products," an industry source told Reuters.
Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said on Monday Iran's exports of petroleum products had quadrupled in the past eight years.
Iranian authorities have said Washington's "maximum pressure" policy aimed at halting Iran's oil exports have failed as Tehran has been working to get around the measures.
Citing three assessments based on tanker tracking, Reuters reported that Iranian oil exports had risen sharply in September, although the figures fall into a wide range of between 400,000 and 1.5 million bpd.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, who was vice president in the U.S. administration which negotiated the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, has said he would return to the nuclear pact if Iran resumes compliance.
The prospect of a rise in supplies from Iran, an OPEC member, have worried some members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies, a group known as OPEC+ that has cut output to prop up oil prices.
Iran has ruled out talks with the United States unless Washington returns to the nuclear deal and lifts sanctions. "We will not miss any opportunity, ... whenever there is an opportunity, to have the sanctions lifted," President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech on Wednesday.
(Writing by Parisa Hafezi and Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by Louise Heavens and Edmund Blair)
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