* Crude exports drop to 1.1-1.2 million bpd-sources
* Less crude exported to India, Syria in April
* Sales over interim nuclear deal may still top envisaged
By Jonathan Saul and Alex Lawler
LONDON, April 29 Iran's oil exports fell in
April for a second month, according to sources who track tanker
movements, moving closer to levels allowed by November's interim
deal on curbing Tehran's nuclear programme.
The decline may reflect seasonally lower crude oil demand
and U.S. pressure on some customers take less. Signs of higher
Iranian sales since late 2013 have led to concern in Washington
that a softening of sanctions has given Tehran's economy a
"It looks like India has imported less in April - that could
be due to a combination of more pressure from the United States
and also lower crude demand at this time of year by Indian
buyers," a tanker-tracking source said.
Iran's crude exports have averaged 1.1 million barrels per
day (bpd) in April, said one of the sources, down from almost
1.3 million bpd in March. That would bring exports back down to
the average 2013 level of Iranian imports.
Under an interim deal signed in November between Iran and
six world powers - known as the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) -
that came into effect on Jan. 20, Iran's exports are supposed to
be held to an average 1 million bpd through July 20.
Tim Wilson, of U.S. based think tank Foundation for Defense
of Democracies (FDD) which backs tougher measures, said exports
are still on course to exceed that level over the six-month
period because of sharply higher sales in earlier months.
"Under that plan Iran was expected to maintain crude oil
exports at the same levels as during 2013 with the State
Department monitoring the aggregate over time," said Wilson.
"The State Department should now be having considerable
The Obama administration believes that Iran's oil sales will
fall in coming months and average 1 million bpd over the entire
Wilson of the FDD said: "In order to remain within the
expected oil export figures, Iran will need to reduce their
exports by almost 80 percent for the remainder of the JPOA
Besides seasonally lower demand, exports are also down as
Iran has sent less crude to its ally Syria - one of the
countries Washington does not sanction for taking Iranian oil -
the tanker tracking source said.
A second tanker-tracking source said Iran's crude exports in
April have shown a downward trend to below 1.2 million bpd from
March's rate of 1.3 million bpd.
The sailings in April appear to be higher than those
indicated by ship loading data seen by Reuters on April 17,
which pointed towards crude exports of just 950,000 bpd.
The November deal, say industry sources, improved sentiment
around buying Iranian oil by reducing political risk. The rising
trend in exports since then alarmed backers of tough sanctions,
who said Iran looked to be getting more relief than Washington
had said it would under the agreement.
There is no generally accepted figure for the oil exports of
many producers, including Iran. Information takes time to filter
out from opaque oil and shipping markets, and consumer countries
detail imports with a time lag or not at all.
The West's oil watchdog, the International Energy Agency,
provides closely watched Iranian export figures and said global
crude imports from Iran reached 1.65 million bpd in February,
the highest since June 2012.
So far, the IEA has only published a preliminary March
exports estimate of 1.05 million bpd, which it says will
probably be revised up.
(Reporting by Jonathan Saul and Alex Lawler in London; Editing
by Veronica Brown and William Hardy)