Iran is set to start loading crude oil at the Jask oil terminal on the Gulf Oman as early as July 19, adding its first export terminal outside the strategic Strait of Hormuz leading to the Persian Gulf.
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Some 100,000 mt of heavy crude oil could be loaded, once crude oil is reached at the terminal within the next two days, Vahid Maleki, director of the Jask Oil Terminal, told the state-run IRNA news agency on July 17. Iran's outgoing President Hassan Rouhani has vowed to make the second main oil terminal operational before his administration ends on Aug. 3.
Iran started pumping oil into a pipeline to gear up for the Jask terminal, oil ministry-run news service Shana reported on May 19. In the first phase, the loading capacity will be 350,000 b/d, according to Maleki.
A 100,000 mt vessel has been chosen to carry the first crude, he said.
A 1,000 km conduit is capable of transferring 1 million b/d of oil from the oil-rich southwest Khuzestan province to the Jask terminal.
Jask is an alternative to the Kharg exports terminal that is located inside the Strait of Hormuz. The new facility can export heavy crude, light crude and gas condensates. It has been equipped with three metering facilities and six 36-inch pipelines that connect to three SPMs.
Storage capacity in the Sea of Oman terminal is 10 million barrels, half of Kharg.
Iran considers the terminal important to diversify its export sources, to supply feedstock for domestic petrochemical products to be exported.
Iran's crudes are mostly sour in quality due to their high sulfur content. They normally also have a higher specific gravity and are classified as heavy or medium, with gravities ranging from 27 to 34 API.
The country's main export grade Iran Light, which is a medium sour grade with 33.6 API gravity and 1.46% sulfur content, according to the crude assay published by the state-owned National Iranian Oil Co. The Iran Heavy export grade is a heavy sour crude with an API gravity of 29.5 and sulfur content of 1.77%.
Despite US sanctions that are intended to heavily penalize buyers of Iranian oil, China's independent refineries have maintained some level of Iranian crude imports, mainly Iran Light and some Iran Heavy, in the past few years, according to market sources.
Iran's crudes compete directly with grades such as Saudi Arabia's Arab Heavy, Arab Light and Arab Medium; Iraq's Basrah Light, Basrah Medium and Basrah Heavy; Russia's Urals; the UAE's Upper Zakum; Oman Crude Blend; Kuwait Export Crude; Venezuela's Mesa 30 and Merey 16; and Mexico's Mata, among others.