Iran’s oil exports to the West surged in May to their highest level since the lifting of sanctions in early 2016 and almost caught up with volumes exported to Asia, according to Reuters.

Iran, which used to be OPEC’s second biggest oil exporter, has been raising output since 2016 to recoup market share lost to regional rivals including Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

In May, Iran exported around 1.1mb/d to Europe including Turkey, almost reaching pre-sanction levels and only slightly below the 1.2mb/d supplied to Asia, The Times of India stated.

In addition, Iran’s oil exports to Asia fell as South Korea and Japan stepped up oil condensate purchases and bought less oil. Exports to Asia were also hit by India’s decision to cut annual purchases from Iran by a fifth for the fiscal year to March 2018.

Iran is currently producing about 200,000b/d of West Karoun grade, which the nation blends with other Iranian heavy grades for export.