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Iran's oil ministry hopes nuclear deal can hold as oil exports climb

Tehran — With crude and condensate exports of around 2.5 million b/d, senior Iranian oil officials are hopeful the country's nuclear deal with Western powers will continue, despite the US threatening to withdraw.

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Iran's crude oil and condensates exports have increased by more than 1 million b/d to hit an average of 2.418 million b/d, since the implementation of a landmark nuclear deal with Western powers in January 2016, Deputy oil minister for international and commercial affairs Amir Hossein Zamaninia said Sunday.

But the nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is at risk of unraveling. The US has repeatedly threatened to re-impose sanctions, potentially cutting exports by 1 million b/d. US President Donald Trump has a May 12 deadline to decide whether to continue waiving sanctions on Iran.

He signaled earlier this month, along with French President Emmanuel Macron, some potential changes could preserve the agreement but add new restrictions on Iran.

"It depends on how Trump quits, what would be the impacts... let's cross the bridge when we get to it," Zamaninia told reporters in Tehran.

"Currently, Iran is exporting more than 2.5 million barrels of crude oil and gas condensates," Zamaninia was quoted as saying by the oil ministry's news service Shana.

The country produced an average of 3.82 million b/d in March, according to the latest S&P Global Platts OPEC survey, an addition of some 1 million b/d since the nuclear deal was struck.

This includes output from Iran's West Karun fields which currently tops 300,000 b/d, up from 70,000 b/d in 2013, Zamaninia said.

At the same time, gas output at the key South Pars gas field also exceeded 550 million cu m/d from around 280 million cu m/d in 2013.

Further developments in the Iranian oil sector will depend on the agreement, continuing, even if there is some renegotiation.

"The JCPOA will be alive for oil as long as international trades continues," Zamaninia added, striking a more conciliatory tone than Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, who has said any renegotiation would be a violation of its terms, and would prompt Iran's withdrawal from the agreement.

--Aresu Eqbali,