Iran is aiming to continue its crude exports at record levels since the return of full sanctions imposed by the US, according to state-backed media.

The Iranian parliament on Sunday approved the next year’s budget, which aims to export 1.4m barrels per day (bpd) of crude, according to the Kayhan International news website. The projections priced Iranian crude at $85 per barrel, it said.

Iranian exports hit 1.4m bpd in December, driven by demand from small refiners in China’s Shandong province, according to data analyst Vortexa.

It tracked 11 VLCCs from the fleet of National Iranian Tanker Co loaded in December for export, contributing to a decline in floating storage.

The company indicated that loadings in the first half of January were down on the previous month’s highs as it competes on price and for tonnage with Russia.

Most of Iran’s crude heads to China or to offshore Malaysia for storage, said crude analyst Armen Azizian.

“Russia discounted its barrels much more than Iran for February and March deliveries,” he said.

Throughout last year, Iranian exports averaged 1m bpd, a 20% year-on-year increase.

Tehran has faced strict US sanctions since 2018, when President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 deal that lifted sanctions in return for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear programme.

The US Office of Foreign Assets Control has more than 200 vessels on its sanctions lists related to various Iranian programmes.

It put seven crude carriers and four product tankers, said to be controlled by Switzerland-based Ukrainian Viktor Artemov, on a blacklist for shipping hundreds of thousands of barrels of Iranian oil.

New sanctions

The European Union, US and UK introduced new sanctions against Tehran on Monday. Officials said the sanctions were against senior officials responsible for the violent crackdown of protests against the regime.

Attempts failed last year to revive a deal that would have allowed Iran to export its oil in mainstream markets in return for tighter scrutiny of its nuclear programme.