Iran is taking steps to ramp up oil exports by 500,000bd ahead of the end of international sanctions, and to extend its crude contracts with Chinese buyers in 2016, sources involved in the bilateral talks told Reuters.

The top two Chinese buyers, Sinopec Corp, and Chinese state trader, Zhuhai Zhenrong Corporation will together lift around 505,000bd of crude from Iran in 2016.

According to Trade Arabia, Iranian oil officials have also met in the last two months with Chinese state-run traders, PetroChina and CNOOC.

Iran was China’s sixth crude supplier in 2015, however, faces Iraqi and Saudi price competition as its oil is more expensive due to lower sulfur content and slightly higher yield of gasoline, a CNOOC senior trader told Reuters.