Iran's oil exports dropped for a second month in April, the International Energy Agency said, moving closer to levels allowed by November's interim deal on curbing Tehran's nuclear programme.
Global imports of Iranian crude in April averaged 1.11 million barrels per day (bpd), the Paris-based IEA said in its monthly Oil Market Report released on Thursday, down 180,000 bpd from March.
"Imports of Iranian crude reached a 20-month high of 1.58 million barrels per day in February but have since edged lower," the IEA, adviser to 29 industrialized countries, said in the report.
Higher Iranian sales since late 2013 have led to concerns in Washington that a softening of sanctions has given Tehran's economy a boost. U.S.-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies, reacting to the IEA figures, said exports may still exceed the permitted level.
"While April numbers are lower, future months will have to drop considerably to meet the cap imposed as part of the Joint Plan of Action," said Mark Dubowitz of the FDD, which has pushed for tougher Iran sanctions.
"Iran's oil buyers may position themselves over the next two months to be in a position to rapidly increase their exports if there is a final deal reached by July 20, or a renewal of the interim deal for a further six months, which may come on even more generous terms for Tehran than the current one."