The company plans to increase the said capacity in the future, he announced in an interview with the Iran Petroleum monthly, IRNA reported.
“Fortunately, several developments have happened with regard to swap operations with the Caspian Sea littoral states since August, and 1.8 million barrels of oil has since been shipped from Central Asian countries to refineries in Tabriz and Tehran in more than 36 cargoes. The equivalent amount has been delivered to foreign buyers in Kharg Island,” Mousavi said.
He also recalled that swap operations in the north of the country are carried out via Neka terminal, which is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, technologically advanced labs and skilled workforce.
“It can handle 1.5 million barrels of oil. Refineries receiving crude oil have so far expressed satisfaction with the quality of the oil. The relaunch of oil swap with the Caspian Sea littoral states is another achievement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” the company’s representative added.
He also stressed that there is a possibility of increasing oil swap capacity between Iran and Central Asia in the near future.
“Iran has the capacity to receive 200,000 bpd of crude oil from Central Asian countries. It currently receives around 50,000 bpd.
NIOC and Iran's Foreign Affairs Ministry are in talks with foreign parties to increase the volume of swap operations. Oil swap with Turkmenistan is currently underway. Kazakhstan, Russia and Azerbaijan will soon join the swap operations,” Mousavi explained.
Oil swaps make possible for Iran to optimize oil deliveries to refineries in the north of the country because the greater portion of oilfields is concentrated in the south of Iran.
Before the imposition of sanctions, Iran was an active participant in swap operations, which began in 1997 on the basis of signed contracts. Under the oil swap agreements, which were in place for over 12 years, Iran received crude oil of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan in the Neka port and delivered an equal volume to the clients of the same countries in Persian Gulf.
From 1997 to 2009, the total income received by Iran from these swap transactions amounted to $880 million.
In 2010, Tehran stopped the swap arrangement with Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, arguing that the $1 a barrel fee charged had to be increased and based on the international crude oil price. The Hague International Court of Justice fined the National Iranian Oil Company $5.5 million due to stopping the swap of oil with its international partners.
In 2012, Iran tried to revive the old swap deals. However, the Iranian oil sector had been subject to EU and US sanctions, while Naftiran Intertrade Company (NICO) was put on a US blacklist. This meant that any direct trade, even by non-US companies, with NICO would lead to penalties by US.
Following the nuclear deal concluded between Iran and the six world powers, Iran voiced its interest in reviving the previous swap agreements.
Iran has huge reserves of oil as its proved reserves for 2017 amounted to 137.6 billion barrels of oil.