Iran's oil exports have hit a 5-year high in spite of US sanctions, helping to prevent a sharp increase in oil prices triggered by the conflict in West Asia.
According to the Nikkei Asian Review, Iranian exports of crude oil grew by roughly 50 percent last year to a five-year high of about 1.29 million barrels per day.
The major English-language Japanese weekly noted that the vast majority of Iran's oil exports were going to China.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said Iran produced 2.99 million barrels of oil daily in 2023, or 440,000 barrels more than its production in 2022.
The agency predicted Iran daily crude production to increase another 160,000 barrels in 2024.
Rapidly-growing Chinese demand for more crude is encouraging Iran to ramp up its oil production. Dozens of oil refineries in China are now purchasing oil from Iran.
Based on data and analytics gathered by the Kpler research company in Europe, some 90 percent of Iran's crude oil exports went to China.
In past years, the Islamic Republic has been working towards building its bonds with China. Iran's president and his Chinese counterpart met in Beijing last February and agreed to call for US sanctions to be lifted.
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