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ITE Transport and Logistics

A guide to Iran’s oil exporting ports

With international sanctions affecting the country lifted in January 2016, Iran is set to become a major player in the world of oil and gas exports once more. Iran has a number of key facilities dotted around the country that account for significant levels of oil exports. To get you prepared for the inevitable influx of Iranian oil on world markets, we’ve profiled the nation’s largest oil terminals.

It should be noted that the figures listed in this article are from pre-sanction sources, in terms of each respective port’s storage and export figures. Amir Hossein Zamaninia, Deputy Oil Minister for Commerce and International Affairs, stated that Iran will be striving to reach export levels from before the sanctions were imposed in 2011. It is therefore likely that these major facilities will see their capacity levels increase alongside Iran’s oil output.

The majority of Iran’s crude oil exports, almost all in fact, passes through terminals located in the Persian Gulf: the islands of Kharg, Lavan and Sirri.

Kharg Island

Kharg Island, opened in 1986 and at one stage the world’s largest offshore crude oil terminal, is Iran’s primary export port for oil. The terminal is responsible for processing all onshore production, including Iranian Heavy and Light Blends, as well as processing offshore production from the Froozan field. As of 2015, Kharg Island accounts for 90% of Iran’s oil crude oil exports. Current loading capacity is 5 million barrels per day.

Storage capacity, as expected from Iran’s largest terminal, dwarfs the other major ports in the area. 30 million barrels can be stored there, allowing for greater flexibility for more imports. As Iran is aiming for 6 million barrels per day (bpd) in production, with 70,000 barrels per hour from Kharg according to the Managing Director of the Iran Oil Terminals Company (IOTC), the terminal is expected to remain Iran’s leading crude export facility.

Lavan Island

Handling production of Iran’s highest quality export grade, Lavan Blend sourced from a number of offshore fields, Lavan Island handles one of Iran’s smallest streams. However, the facility does have the capacity to store 5.5 million barrels with a loading capacity of 200,000 bpd. The port also features a two berth jetty and can accommodate vessels up to 250,000 deadweight tons.

The Lavan refinery is responsible for a number of different oil products. Notably, it began the production of euro-4 petrol in February, 2014. The quality of this gasoline was raised further in March 2015, according to Iran’s Petroleum Ministry. Amongst the other products produced and export on Lavan island include gas oil and jet fuel.

Sirri Island

Sirri Island is the last of Iran’s major terminals in the Persian Gulf. It has the smallest capacity of the three, with a total of 4.4 million barrels. This particular port is the primary loading zone for the Sirri Blend of oil.

The Sirri Terminal, though small in output and storage capacity, is still generously equipped. Its loading platform features four loading arms. These can load tankers weighing from 80,000 to 330,000 deadweight tons.


Situated on Iran’s northern coast, Neka is the nation’s Caspian Sea port. The port was built in 2003 in order to handle oil imports from other countries in the area under swap agreements. While swaps with regional producers such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan had ceased in 2011, Iran’s ambassador to Turkmenistan, Mohammed Mousa Heshemi, stated Iran is ready to begin swaps with this nation in the future

A deal with Russia, where Russia would sell 500,000 barrels of Iranian per day, in exchange for commodities such as wheat, machinery and steel, has spurred on redevelopment of the Neka facility.

This comes off the back of the May, 2015, decision by the IOTC to greatly expand the port’s capabilities. Neka will have 13 oil tanker docks, capable of berthing ships of up to 63,000 ton capacity. Previously, the terminal had a loading capacity of 120,000 bpd. Once Neka’s upgrades are completed in June, 2016, capacity is expected to increase to 1.5 million bpd.

A step up in Iranian oil production

Despite the ongoing pricing and over production issues hitting the oil and gas industry, Iran is committed to stepping up its international oil exports. February, 2016, saw shipments of Iranian oil products reaching European shores for the first time in five years. Around half of Iran’s 1.2 million metric tons of fuel oil exports were set to end up in Singapore during the same month.

With the goal of increasing production levels, Iran’s major oil terminals could also be expanded and new facilities built. As it stands, however, the ports listed in this report are Iran’s main oil export facilities. 

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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