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Iraq: The Remaining Lifeline For Iran

Refinery

Having looked thoroughly into the implications of the latest U.S. Iran sanctions throughout the past few weeks, it is reasonable to ask who stands to benefit from such a set-up. Russia and Saudi Arabia are among the first that come to mind – having eliminated, at least partially, a relatively powerful competitor, they can now increase their market share and pump out more crude (unless market conditions force them to do another production cut). The United States, too, is already taking advantage of the sanctions – take condensate supply to South Korean refiners, where the U.S. is vehemently pushing Eagle Ford as a substitute for South Pars Condensate. Yet the biggest winner from US sanctions is a subtle pick, having been exempted from any limitations vis-à-vis Iran, the only nation to be allowed to do so. Yes, we are talking about Iraq.

The seven countries and one “jurisdiction” (read Taiwan) that received waivers last week saw their import possibilities curtailed to a fixed amount. Even though Iraq, too, received a waiver, it did so without suffering any restrictions (the only constraining moment was the 45-day period for which the waiver was granted, however, Iraqi officials have repeatedly asserted that it will take years to create their own energy infrastructure, hence dealing with Iran is a necessity). Whilst it is completely true that Iraq has no need for any additional volumes of oil, of which it has more than enough, the possibility…




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