Trump administration set to end sanction exemptions for nations importing Iranian oil

22 Avril, 2019, 16:10 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • US,Iran oil sanctions,oil sanctions

The United States wants all importers to eventually cut their oil sales from Iran to zero, which is likely to have a significant impact on the Middle Eastern country, where oil exports serve as one of main sources of budget revenues. It is meant to further ramp up pressure on Tehran by restraining the revenue it gets from oil exports.

The United States is expected to announce on Monday that all importers of Iranian oil will have to end their imports shortly or be subject to USA sanctions, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters.

Under the 2015 accord with six world powers, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in worldwide inspectors in return for sanctions relief.

China, which relies on imports for about half of its oil, could present the toughest diplomatic challenge in trying to enforce the Trump administration's ambition of driving down Iran's oil exports.

Brent crude futures, the worldwide oil benchmark, were up almost 2 percent at 73.25 us dollars a barrel, on the report that the waivers were to end. In early November, Washington, however, granted six-month waivers from oil sanctions against Iran to Greece, Italy, Taiwan, China, India, Turkey, Japan and South Korea.

It was not immediately clear if any of the five would be given additional time to wind down their purchases or if they would be subject to USA sanctions on May 3 if they do not immediately halt imports of Iranian oil.

Analysts said the end to the exemptions would hit Asian buyers hardest.

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Oil markets have tightened this year because of supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Iran's biggest oil customers are China and India, both of which have been lobbying for an extension to the sanction waivers.

South Korea, a close USA ally, is a major buyer of Iranian condensate, an ultra-light form of crude oil that its refining industry relies on to produce petrochemicals.

As a result, Brent prices have risen by more than a third since January, and WTI by more than 40 per cent.

JOGMEC's Nogami said OPEC's leading producers "Saudi (Arabia), the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait need to boost output to cover the shortfall" from Iran, warning Brent prices could rise to the mid-$80 per barrel if no alternative supply was found.

"Under SREs we hope they will give us relaxation and allow us to buy some Iranian oil", the source added.

Geng Shuang, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, said at a daily news briefing in Beijing on Monday that it opposed unilateral US sanctions against Iran and that China's bilateral cooperation with Iran was in accordance with the law.

So far in April, Iranian exports were averaging below 1 million barrels per day (bpd), according to Refinitiv Eikon data and two other companies that track exports and declined to be identified.

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