Iran is reaching out to old customers in Asia to gauge their interest in buying its oil as Tehran ramps up diplomacy to get US sanctions lifted, Bloomberg said quoting informed sources.

Iran PressIran News: The National Iranian Oil Co. has approached at least five refiners across the region to discuss the possibility of supply deals if sanctions are eased, according to people familiar with the matter. Talks are preliminary, with no discussion on volumes or prices yet, they said, asking not to be identified because the information is confidential.

One processor has been contacted twice this year after having no interaction with the OPEC producer at all in 2020, according to one person. 

Iran’s crude shipments dwindled to a trickle after reaching around 2.5 million barrels a day in early 2018 as former US President Donald Trump tightened sanctions and ended waivers for some countries in 2019. Still, a number of Chinese refiners continued to take some oil. Prior to the penalties, China and India were Iran’s biggest buyers in Asia, followed by South Korea and Japan.

"I expect most buyers in Asia to say they would be happy to resume importing crude, provided US sanctions are lifted," said Vandana Hari, founder of Vanda Insights in Singapore. 

While Iranian oil exports are still subject to sanctions, shipments have been creeping up, and flows to China have received some unwanted attention. India is also hoping Biden takes a softer line against Iran so that the world’s third-largest oil importer can diversify its crude sources.

Beijing opposed the sanctions and accused the US of reaching beyond its jurisdiction.