Iran Oil Ex­ports to Plum­met in Novem­ber

Iran News - - FRONT PAGE -

SIN­GA­PORE (Dis­patches) - Iran’s oil ex­ports have fallen sharply since U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said at mid-year he would re-im­pose sanc­tions on Tehran, but with waivers in hand, the Mid­dle Eastern na­tion’s ma­jor buy­ers could scale up or­ders as soon as next month.

But the ex­emp­tions granted to Iran’s big­gest oil clients - China, In­dia, South Korea, Ja­pan, Italy, Greece, Tai­wan and Turkey - which al­low them to im­port at least some oil for an­other 180 days, could mean the ex­ports start to rise af­ter Novem­ber. This group of eight buy­ers takes as much as three-quar­ters of Iran’s seaborne oil ex­ports, trade data shows.

“The de­ci­sion by the U.S. (to grant waivers) rep­re­sents a de­par­ture, for now, from the stated aim of re­duc­ing Iran’s oil ex­ports to zero,” said Pat Thaker, re­gional di­rec­tor for the Mid­dle East and Africa at The Econ­o­mist In­tel­li­gence Unit.

As a re­sult of pre-sanc­tions pres­sure by Wash­ing­ton, Iran’s oil ex­ports in Novem­ber may not ex­ceed 1 mil­lion to 1.5 mil­lion bar­rels per day (bpd), ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try es­ti­mates, mak­ing them as lit­tle as a third of a mid-2018 peak.

“U.S. sanc­tions are ex­pected to bring Ira­nian crude ex­ports down to 1.1 mil­lion bpd in Novem­ber,” ac­cord­ing to S&P Global Platts An­a­lyt­ics.

Ja­pan’s trade min­is­ter, Hiroshige Seko, though, has al­ready said on Tues­day that Ja­panese buy­ers of Ira­nian oil are ex­pected to re­sume im­ports from the Is­lamic repub­lic af­ter the coun­try was granted a waiver from U.S. sanc­tions.

Ja­pan and South Korea, both close US al­lies, had toed the Wash­ing­ton sanc­tions line and stopped buy­ing crude from Iran.

In­dia, Iran’s sec­ond-big­gest oil cus­tomer, also cut or­ders ahead of the sanc­tions, hop­ing its ef­fort to re­duce reliance on Tehran would pay off in Wash­ing­ton and win it a waiver once the sanc­tions re-started.

Even China, locked in a bit­ter trade war with the United States, bowed to pres­sure from Wash­ing­ton and di­alled back im­ports.

Trad­ing sources said sev­eral Asian oil im­porters are al­ready look­ing to in­crease their or­ders for Ira­nian oil soon.

“En­quiries for car­goes from Iran are ... com­ing in from sev­eral Asian buy­ers,” said one mer­chant trader, who de­clined to be named be­cause he was not au­tho­rized to talk about his firm’s com­mer­cial ac­tiv­ity.

The wide-rang­ing ex­emp­tions have cut fears of a sup­ply short­age, tak­ing pres­sure off com­pa­nies, gov­ern­ments and economies around the world that have strug­gled with the surg­ing cost for fuel.

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