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EghtesadOnline: The National Iranian Oil Company exported 24 million barrels of gas condensates in January to Asian and European buyers -- the outbound volume being over and above the average figures seen during the past several months.

Since the easing of international economic sanctions in January last year, Iran's gas condensates exports have risen nearly four times, reaching a daily average of 550,000 barrels from just around 150,000 barrels per day in 2012 when trade and financial restrictions were in place, Shana reported.

According to Ali Kardor, NIOC managing director, gas condensates output was around 300,000 bpd in 2013, but production capacity has since shot up by 50%, exceeding 600,000 barrels per day. Combined exports of crude oil and condensates have also climbed to 2.8 million bpd, said the official.

Condensates are in the twilight zone between crude oil and natural gas. They possess characteristics of both oil and gas, and have values and market drivers both similar to, and distinctly separate from, oil and gas, Financial Tribune reported.

Underscoring that the main buyers of Iranian gas condensates in Asia are its traditional oil customers, namely China, India, South Korea, Turkey, Taiwan and Japan, he noted, "BP received its first gas condensates cargo from NIOC last year under single-shipment contracts and negotiations are underway for NIOC to sign long-term contracts with Shell."

In related news, Iran had stored up 10 million barrels of condensates in China as part of efforts to expand its presence in the world's second-largest energy market, but the entire inventory has been sold, the Oil Ministry said  earlier in the week.

Tehran turned to leasing oil storage tanks in China during the sanctions, making the country an export base for its petroleum products in the Far East as financial and trade restrictions had significantly curtailed Iranian oil trade and shipment.

"With each barrel at $40, export of 50 million barrels of condensates generates $2 billion in revenues, Kardor was quoted as saying by Shana on Saturday.

Condensate output is slated to reach 1 million barrels a day upon the launch of all phases of South Pars, the giant gas field shared by Iran and Qatar, the NIOC chief added.

But Tehran has said it wants to reduce the outbound shipments of condensates and instead  use the fossil fuel for manufacturing goods with higher value added. 

Condensate exports are set to decrease sharply upon the launch of several oil processing plants, including the Siraf and the Persian Gulf Star Refinery, the latter said to be the largest refinery project in the Middle East.

Export of petroleum products has also risen to record levels in the first 10 months of the current fiscal year as 450,000 barrels of oil derivatives such as naphtha, diesel, bitumen and sulfur, were exported in large volumes to Southeast Asian clients from Mahshahr, Asalouyeh, Lavan and Bandar Abbas ports in southern Iran.

NIOC Ali Kardor Iran gas Iran gas exports Iran Gas condensate