August 2023 Iran Tanker Tracker

This month, Iran’s oil exports reached levels not seen since 2017. During the first 20 days of August, Iran dispatched an average of two million barrels of oil daily. This marks a substantial increase of more than 30% compared to previous months. The key to understanding this oil export surge lies in the relaxation of sanctions enforcement by the Biden administration, particularly to China. This approach has opened avenues for Iran to revive and significantly increase its exports.

The Biden Administration’s recent deal to free five Iranian-American hostages held by Iran is symptomatic. This agreement involves releasing an unknown number of Iranian agents or sanctions violators held in U.S. jails, along with the release of over $6 billion of Iranian assets frozen by South Korea. This deal rewards the regime for its hostile actions and could incentivize Tehran, and even other outlaw regimes, to take more hostages in the future.

This oil export surge not only impacts geopolitics but also has significant economic ramifications for Iran. Selling oil at discounted rates to China still generates substantial revenue for Iran's regime. Even at a conservative estimate of $50 per barrel, Iran's daily earnings surpass $100 million. This influx of funds could alleviate some of Iran's economic challenges, providing it with funding to expand its influence, fund proxy groups, and potentially further its nuclear ambitions.

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August 2023 - Barrels Per Day (bpd)*

July 2023 - Barrels Per Day (bpd)*

June 2023 - Barrels Per Day (bpd)*





















* Figures to be updated over the following weeks

View Iran Tanker Tracking

As tensions appeared to settle between the U.S. and Iran following the announcement of the hostage deal, the recent developments surrounding the apparent U.S. seizure of Iranian crude oil from the SUEZ RAJAN added another level of complexity. This latest twist highlights the extent to which the movement of a single oil tanker can reverberate across geopolitics.

On August 20, 2023, the SUEZ RAJAN began offloading its Iranian oil to the MR EUPHRATES, near Texas, which was then offloaded at a terminal in Houston. As a reminder, the SUEZ RAJAN’s story began in February 2022, after receiving Iranian oil from VIRGO via ship-to-ship transfer in the South China Sea. For months, the vessel sat in the South China Sea before sailing for the Gulf of Mexico. In the meantime, Iran seized two tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, including one with cargo for U.S. oil major Chevron Corp. Then, in July, the top commander of the IRGC’s naval arm threatened further action against anyone offloading the SUEZ RAJAN. On August 28, 2023, Iran summoned a Swiss diplomat over the alleged U.S. seizure of Iranian crude oil. 

The unfolding drama surrounding the SUEZ RAJAN paints a vivid picture of the intricacies of international relations and the far-reaching impact of oil trade on geopolitical dynamics. As Iran persists in its efforts to evade sanctions and maintain its oil exports, the imperative for more robust enforcement of sanctions becomes increasingly evident. With the world's attention fixed on these developments, the movement of a single tanker can indeed trigger a cascade of diplomatic actions and repercussions.