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Iran to sell oil in ‘grey market’ as US tightens sanctions

Iran to sell oil in ‘grey market’ as US tightens sanctions thumbnail

Iran has mobilised all its resources to sell oil in a “grey market”, a top official said, after the United States told buyers of Iranian oil – including China, India and Turkey – to stop purchases or face sanctions.

Amir Hossein Zamaninia, Iran’s deputy oil minister, told state media on Sunday that Iran will continue to export oil despite the US sanctions, which he said were neither just nor legitimate.

The US moves, announced in April, are part of a “maximum pressure campaign” aimed at halting Iran’s ballistic missile programme and curbing its regional power, including its support for conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

They come after Washington withdrew last year from a landmark nuclear pact – in which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear programme – and reimposed sanctions on exports of Iranian oil in November.

At the time, eight of Iran’s largest oil importers were granted waivers from US sanctions to allow them time to find alternative supplies. Several countries expected those exemptions to be renewed, but the White House in a surprise move decided not to do so.

The decision is aimed at cutting Iran’s oil exports to zero and depriving the government of its lifeline of $50bn in annual oil revenues.

‘Serious decisions’

Tehran, however, remained defiant.

“We have mobilised all of the country’s resources and are selling oil in the ‘grey market’,” state news agency IRNA quoted Zamaninia as saying.

“We certainly won’t sell 2.5 million barrels per day as under the [nuclear deal],” he said. “We will need to make serious decisions about our financial and economic management, and the government is working on that.”

He gave no details about the “grey market”, but Iran is widely reported to have sold oil at steep discounts and often through private firms during sanctions earlier this decade.

“This is not smuggling. This is countering sanctions which we do not see as just or legitimate,” Zamaninia said.

Can US bring down Iranian oil production down to zero? (1:50)

Manouchehr Takin, a United Kingdom-based oil and energy consultant, said tankers loading Iranian crude could bypass US sanctions by operating under the radar and making it harder to track actual volumes of oil shipments.

“Within the sea trade, there’s hundreds of tankers moving around here and there, and these vessels go to different ports, load and unload and so on. And tankers, when they get out on the open sea, they may switch off some of their signals so they would not be tracked, and then change names or papers.”

“What the US is doing is illegal and to get out of it, Iran wants to do the best it can,” he told Al Jazeera.

‘Regret and concern’

On Saturday, the European Union, which has pledged to uphold the 2015 nuclear deal without the US, also voiced concern over the added US sanctions.

In a statement, the EU and the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Britain – the three EU powers that led the initial nuclear negotiations with Iran – said they took note “with regret and concern of the decision by the United States not to extend waivers with regards to trade in oil with Iran”.

Turkey and China are the only two countries so far to have expressed a desire to continue large purchases of Iranian crude. Other major buyers, such as India, Japan and South Korea, have signalled they would bow to US pressure.

On Saturday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Iran must counter US sanctions by continuing to export its oil as well as boosting non-oil exports.

“America is trying to decrease our foreign reserves … So we have to increase our hard currency income and cut our currency expenditures,” Rouhani said live on television.

“Last year, we had non-oil exports of $43bn. We should increase production and raise our [non-oil] exports and resist America’s plots against the sale of our oil.”

Separately, the US also acted on Friday to force Iran to stop producing low-enriched uranium and expanding its only nuclear power plant.

Washington scrapped two sanctions waivers – one that had allowed Iran to store excess heavy water produced in the uranium enrichment process in Oman, and one that allowed Iran to swap enriched uranium for mined uranium “yellowcake” with Russia.

Highly enriched uranium can be used to fuel a nuclear weapon.

However, Ali Larijani, the Iranian parliament speaker, said Tehran would continue low-level uranium enrichment to help produce electricity.

“Under the deal, we have not done anything wrong. We continue enriching,” he was quoted as saying by the semi-official news agency ISNA.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

59 Comments on "Iran to sell oil in ‘grey market’ as US tightens sanctions"

  1. Cloggie on Thu, 9th May 2019 12:37 am 

    Assange being “chemically lobotomized by Chemical Gina a.k.a. Bloody Gina Haspel, CIA Director.

    Next USSR. Punished for telling the truth.

    We’re outta here.

  2. Cloggie on Thu, 9th May 2019 1:59 am 

    “Russia Arrests 4 In Dirty Oil Sabotage Case Which Blocked Major Siberia-Europe Pipeline”

    Now who are the most likely candidates for this act of sabotage.

    Asking the question is answering it.

  3. Davy on Thu, 9th May 2019 2:49 am 

    Asking the question is answering it.

    Aren’t you the clever cloggo. LOL

  4. Robert Inget on Thu, 9th May 2019 12:29 pm 

    If US Navy can arrest N.Korean coal ships;

    What’s to stop USN from stoping Iranian oil tankers?

    Lately, most high value cargo vessels carry armed
    guards to prevent boarding by pirates.

    One can only assume Iran does the same.

    Just Asking the Question.

  5. Robert Inget on Thu, 9th May 2019 12:52 pm 

    DONALD Trump wiped nearly $1.5 TRILLION from global markets with a single Twitter blast vowing to double tariffs on Chinese goods after they “broke” a crucial trade deal.

    The US president renewed hostilities between the two economic giants threatening to once more ramp up the cost of Beijing trading in the US.

    (Most of those loses were not mine), so, I bare
    no ill will toward “Our Dear Leader”

    One thing America has to be thankful for.
    ODL took time off from bashing Hillary to bankrupt the US.

    Up to this week Trump has been small time. Going BK six times. Taking USD down will be by far the biggest turkey feather in his cap.

    I’m trying to decide if MW farmers who, almost to a Man voted for ODL, deserve sympathy?

    Between our beans and oil China NEEDS our raw materials more than we need their manufactured goods.
    The outcome of Trump’s War on Trade may hinge
    on basic needs, not ‘stuff’ from Amazon.

    IOW’s all ODL needs to worry about now is law.

  6. Robert Inget on Thu, 9th May 2019 1:26 pm 

    Is Europe next on Trump’s ‘wag the dog’ agenda?

    “EU ‘rejects ultimatums’, says it’s still committed to Iran nuclear deal after Tehran scaledown
    EU ‘rejects ultimatums’, says it’s still committed to Iran nuclear deal after Tehran scaledown
    The EU is committed to preserving the nuclear deal with Iran and helping the nation dodge US economic sanctions, and will not bend to any ultimatums, top European diplomats say. Earlier, Tehran suspended some of its commitments”.
    May 9, 2019 08:18 (30)

    One solution to continue buying Iran’s (discounted) crude would be NOT using USD or US banks.

    Trump already threatened to tariff the crap out of European cars, what’s next? Cheese?

    Trump’s War on Trade will end up with an inflated
    USD and high interest rates .

    Former Free Trade Republicans sold out to a tiny minority of well armed loony tunes.

    And you thought Democrats were spineless!

  7. makati1 on Thu, 9th May 2019 6:15 pm 

    Robert, once again, you are spot on. Trumpet is destroying all the ties and alliances built up over decades. His ‘advisors’ are insane and his own mental state is very, very questionable. Bipolar?

    He is killing the US dollar faster than I ever expected. By driving the 7,300,000,000+ people, not in the US, to work around the US system (dollar), he is killing America.

    GO TRUMP! TRUMP IN 2020! Take it down now before you can start another war.

  8. Davy on Thu, 9th May 2019 6:26 pm 

    “Economic Might As A Foreign Policy Tool” Theodore Schatt via zero hedge

    “To gain admission into the World Trade Organization, China followed a policy of privatization of state owned enterprises and reduction of tariffs and trade barriers. However, after gaining admission, China reversed course. The result was inequality in trade that permitted China’s economy to expand rapidly. The more economic power China obtained, the more China engaged in the theft of intellectual property. For years the accepted rationale has been that these are simply the terms under which China’s market is open for business and there is very little that can be done to change the situation. Critics of the administration have alternatively called the tariffs a mistake because of their impact upon the global economy and a missed opportunity because the trade negotiations will not go far enough to fundamentally alter the communist nature of China’s economic model. The critics seem to miss that during the tariffs the US economy has expand rapidly compared to what the Obama Administration described as “the new normal” while China’s economy has suffered its slowest growth in almost 30 years. Think about that for a moment. Impartial economic indicators suggest that with tariffs in place, in the absence of a trade deal, the United States is in a better economic posture than China. Thus, one can assume, if a trade deal is agreed upon by this Administration it will at a minimum address the theft of US intellectual property and inequitable trade that caused this Administration to take action when others had simply shrugged their shoulders. Thus, much like Developer Trump, the United States finds itself in a position to benefit regardless of whether or not trade negotiations are ultimately successful.”

  9. Davy on Thu, 9th May 2019 6:43 pm 

    “Steve “The Big Short” Eisman: Brace For “Massive” Bond Losses In The Next Recession” zero hedge

    “Eisman became the latest Wall Street luminary to warn about the dangers of the US corporate debt market, something that we have also discussed at length, and that even the Fed has cited as a vulnerable area. Eisman said “big losses” in things like “BBB corporate” debt should be expected during the next downturn. “You will see big losses in things like triple-B corporate debt, high-yield etcetera, but you need a recession first,” he said. “Corporate debt isn’t going to cause the next recession, but it’s where the pain will be in the next recession.”

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