FILE PHOTO: Gas flares from an oil production platform at the Soroush oil fields in the Persian Gulf, south of the Iranian capital in Tehran, July 25, 2005.
FILE PHOTO: Gas flares from an oil production platform at the Soroush oil fields in the Persian Gulf, south of the Iranian capital in Tehran, July 25, 2005.

Iran's production of oil, its top revenue source, declined to its lowest level in more than five years as the U.S. prepared to unilaterally impose a total ban on Iranian crude exports, a new study shows. 

In a monthly report released Wednesday, the International Energy Agency said Iranian oil output was 2.6 million barrels a day in April, down 5% from March's figure of 2.74 million barrels a day. April's oil output figure was Iran's lowest since September 2013. 

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The Trump administration ended waivers it had granted to eight governments to keep importing Iranian crude earlier this month, requiring them to reduce such imports to zero from May 2 or face sanctions. Washington imposed sanctions on Iran's crude exports last November, seeking to deprive Tehran of vital revenues to sustain what the U.S. says are malign Iranian behaviors. 

Iran has vowed to keep exporting oil in defiance of the U.S. sanctions. 

The Paris-based IEA, an intergovernmental agency that compiles data on international energy markets and advises governments on energy policy, also said Iranian oil production might shrink further this month to its lowest level in decades, as the U.S. begins enforcing its total ban on Iranian crude exports. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a joint news conference with his Austrian counterpart following their talks in Sochi, Russia, May 15, 2019.
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In a publicly available summary of the report the IEA welcomed what it said were signals from other oil-producing nations that they will "step in to replace Iran's barrels, albeit gradually in response to requests from customers." 

"The IEA is reassured to see that the challenges posed by [various global] supply uncertainties are being managed and we hope that major players will continue to work to ensure market stability," the IEA added. 

In a Tuesday interview with the Bloomberg news service, Samir Madani, co-founder of oil tanker tracking service TankerTrackers.com, said he had not observed any Iranian oil tankers departing Iran with new crude deliveries this month. But he said that he had spotted one tanker being loaded with crude for apparent storage at an Iranian port. 

This article originated in VOA's Persian service