• 4 minutes 2nd Annual Great Oil Price Prediction Challenge of 2019
  • 7 minutes Nucelar Deal Is Dead? Iran Distances Itself Further From ND, Alarming Russia And France
  • 10 minutes Don Jr. Tweets name Ukraine Whistleblower, Eric Ciaramella. Worked for CIA during Obama Administration, Hold over to Trump National Security Counsel under Gen McCallister, more . . . .
  • 13 minutes Shale pioneer Chesepeak will file bankruptcy soon. FINALLY ! The consolidation begins
  • 15 mins EU has already lost the Trump vs. EU Trade War
  • 1 min More dumbed down? re Hong Kong Act of Congress
  • 18 hours Impeachment S**te
  • 3 hours Pope Proposes New Sin: Thou Shalt Not Destroy The Harmony Of The Environment
  • 5 hours Article: Did Exxon only make $39 Million onshore U.S. last quarter ?
  • 1 day 55.00 WTI
  • 10 hours Visualizing Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Production (Through September 2019)
  • 6 hours U.S. Shale To Break Records Despite Bearish Rhetoric
  • 1 day Everything You Need To Know About Trump
  • 1 day Water, Trump, and Israel’s National Security
  • 32 mins What are the odds of 4 U.S. politicians all having children working for Ukraine Gas Companies?
  • 4 hours Last I Checked
  • 15 mins Petroleum Industry Domain Names
  • 1 hour U.S. Shale Output may Start Dropping Next Year
Alt Text

Megamerger Could Create The Next Deepwater Oil Giant

Offshore oilfield service companies Saipem…

Alt Text

Oil Sinks As Trade War Sentiment Turns Sour

Oil prices sank on Tuesday…

Alt Text

Fracking Under Fire In California

California’s Governor is taking on…

Nick Cunningham

Nick Cunningham

Nick Cunningham is an independent journalist, covering oil and gas, energy and environmental policy, and international politics. He is based in Portland, Oregon. 

More Info

Premium Content

Will The U.S. Actively Pursue Regime Change In Iran?

While all eyes are on the unfolding crisis in Venezuela, the Trump administration is laying the ground work for its next target: Iran.

The greatest source of pressure has come from sanctions on Iran, aimed at disrupting the country’s oil sector. To date, Iran has been able to weather the sanctions although the impact has been painful. Iranian production and exports plunged in the third and fourth quarters last year, but have stabilized since the U.S. granted a series of waivers to eight countries importing oil from Iran in November. In January, Iran’s production and exports appear to have held up, not posting any more additional losses.

According to Reuters, exports are averaging around 1.25 million barrels per day (mb/d) so far in February, which may actually be slightly higher from the 1.1 to 1.3 mb/d exported last month. Some countries may have opted to increase purchases, both because they secured waivers and because the expiration on those allowances expire in a few months. “We think people are taking more ahead of the deadline,” an industry source told Reuters.

Now comes the hard part. The Trump administration has vowed not to issue any new waivers, although there has been little details disclosed into whether or not the existing waivers will be extended.

The regime change effort in Venezuela will make the campaign to impose “maximum pressure” on Iran much more difficult. The acceleration of supply disruptions in Venezuela could and would tighten up the oil market. Oil prices are already at a three-month high, with Brent inching closer to $70 per barrel. Related: Oil Prices Near Three-Month High As Market Tightens

On its face, then, it would seem that the U.S. has little room to tighten the screws on Iran, having already used up the slack in the oil market on its Venezuelan campaign. There is not a ton of excess surplus in the market left over that could be used to knock Iranian oil offline.

However, we should not underestimate the possibility of a reckless push for confrontation with Iran. Discerning the intentions of the Trump administration is notoriously difficult, but that is especially true when there is a high level of disagreement even among officials within the government.

The New York Times reported in January that top Pentagon officials are concerned that national security adviser John Bolton “could precipitate a conflict with Iran.” The National Security Council, on Bolton’s orders, reportedly asked the Pentagon last year to draw up military options for strikes on Iran. The request “alarmed then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other Pentagon officials,” the NYT reported.

The campaign against Iran didn’t end there. The recent U.S.-led summit in Warsaw, Poland was widely criticized as a meeting to gin up global action against Iran, so much so that the title and the agenda of the meeting had to be changed because of opposition in some European capitals. Billed as a conference on Middle East security instead, the meeting was still transparently aimed at Iran.

What to make of all of this?

It may all seem ham-handed, especially since much of the world is not playing along, but as Foreign Policy warns, this all sounds like the run-up to the war in Iraq in 2003. Indeed, the Trump administration may be scouring for ways to link Iran to Al Qaeda so that it can use the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). In other words, Trump officials are trying to find a way to legalize a war without having to turn to Congress.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu did not help matters when his office tweeted – and then removed – that the Warsaw summit was intended “to advance the common interest of war with Iran.”

On February 11, the official twitter account of the White House tweeted out a video of John Bolton accusing Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons. To be clear, there is no evidence of this. Trump’s own intelligence services, as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency, dispute that fact, and indeed all evidence suggests Iran continues to remain in compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement, even after the U.S. pulled out. Related: U.S.-China Trade Deal Could Boost Gasoline Prices

Nevertheless, referring to the 40th anniversary of the revolution in Iran, Bolton seemed to threaten the Iranian government. “I don’t think you’ll have many more anniversaries to enjoy,” he said.

Bolton has been at the forefront of the regime change campaign in Venezuela. It is clearly his hope that President Maduro is toppled quickly, after which, Venezuela’s new government, with the help of American oil companies (Chevron and Halliburton), revive the country’s dilapidated oil sector. A rebound in oil production would ease market pressure, which would conceivably smoothen the path for Bolton’s regime change plan in Iran.

It may not work out that way, not least because a revival of Venezuela’s oil sector won’t be a short-term affair. Moreover, if oil prices rise too much, there is an enormous risk of applying excessive pressure on Iran, to say nothing of a more aggressive military option. Trump has made clear that low gasoline prices is a top priority, so Bolton may even run out of political room to maneuver.

Still, at this point, he’s not exactly hiding what he has in store for Iran.

By Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:




Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage



Leave a comment
  • babrber of baghdad leak agent sgaymobama on February 19 2019 said:
    How IRanians and oil importers with leadership(i.e. not India and vermins)
    can benefit from Iran oil/gas and tourism:

    the fake leader Valdimir putin must be ignored and or removed frmo Russia: He is babrbarian

    I think US Trump should look into this fake political disputes created to make common people' life misreable while thse fake gay leaders like obama, playoy putin, clintons are benefits.

    Iran and IRQ has as mch oil to pump based on current infrastructure, more thna what Saudi's have.

    Saudi is a terrorist state. Like Vatican.
    Lot of Trillion dollar fraud -telecom revoutin has simple solution: people dont look into this as everyone is buys looting. FCC and telco auth every country must be punished.
    All RF frequency used for radio (as in our philips radio etc bbc world radio service on short wave, am/fnm etc)
    can be used for mobile and it is cheaper and low frqncy wave can travel 1000s of miles so need for millions of mobile towers.
    . bandwidth limits etc is fake ideas from ignorant greedy bstrds taking advantage of people/taxpayers who trust them.
  • hollywoodprsent gaynfakeideas on February 19 2019 said:
    and this is how IRanians and oil importers with leadership(i.e. not India and vermins)
    can benefit from Iran oil/gas and tourism:

    the fake leader Valdimir putin must be ignored and or removed frmo Russia: He is babrbarian

    I think US Trump should look into this fake political disputes created to make common people' life misreable while thse fake gay leaders like obama, playoy putin, clintons are benefits.

    Iran and IRQ has as mch oil to pump based on current infrastructure, more thna what Saudi's have.

    Saudi is a terrorist state. Like Vatican.
    Lot of Trillion dollar fraud -telecom revoutin has simple solution: people dont look into this as everyone is buys looting. FCC and telco auth every country must be punished.
    All RF frequency used for radio (as in our philips radio etc bbc world radio service on short wave, am/fnm etc)
    can be used for mobile and it is cheaper and low frqncy wave can travel 1000s of miles so need for millions of mobile towers.
    . bandwidth limits etc is fake ideas from ignorant greedy bstrds taking advantage of people/taxpayers who trust them.
  • Mamdouh Salameh on February 20 2019 said:
    The United States has been pursuing regime change in Iran for years to no avail. Its first regime change in Iran was when it managed to topple the regime of the nationalist Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddegh in a coup detat orchestrated by the CIA in 1953 and brought the Shah back to power.

    Regime change has been part and parcel of US foreign policy since the WW II. From Iraq to Libya and from Syria to Venezuela though US efforts in Syria have failed to dislodge the regime. They will equally fail in Iran.

    Egged by Israel and advocated by the most fanatical architect of the invasion of Iraq and the fiercest supporter of regime change John Bolton, the current National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump, the United States may try to precipitate a war with Iran. However, the end game could prove disastrous to US interests in the whole Middle East.

    So far US sanctions on Iran have failed to cost Iran the loss of even a single barrel of oil despite claims to the contrary particularly by Reuters.

    In 2018, Iran’s crude oil exports averaged 2.125 million barrels a day (mbd) like 2017 according to the authoritative 2018 OPEC Annual Statistical Bulletin.

    95% of Iran’s crude oil exports go to China (35%), India (33%), the EU (20%) and Turkey (7%). The remaining 5% go to South Korea and Japan. While China, India, the EU and Turkey have been importing Iranian crude in increasing volumes, Japan and South Korea would have cut their imports by 20% to abide by the US sanction waivers. However, any reduction by Japan’s imports and South Korea’s, though small, would have been offset by increased imports by China and India.

    The US has no alternative but to renew the sanction waivers it issued to eight countries buying Iranian crude or issue new ones if for no other reason than to use them as a fig leaf to mask the fact that its sanctions have so far failed to cost Iran even a single barrel of oil and that the Trump administration’s zero exports option is a bridge to far.

    In Venezuela, John Bolton has been openly and unashamedly the real force behind the attempted illegal grab of power aiming at regime change with clear designs on the country’s huge oil reserves which are the world’s largest estimated at 303 billion barrels and growing.

    Only when decency and morality become part of the US foreign policy will the likes of John Bolton and his interventionist policy and regime change come to an end.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London
  • Zurvan Narmenvis on February 20 2019 said:
    in 1951 US and UK but Iran under sanctions and then staged a coupe in 1953 to topple the democratically elected prime minister aka a regime change...(please Google operation TPAjax) this has led to all the problems today...the problem between US and Iran did not start in 1979 due to hostage crises but due to sanctions followed by regime change instigated by US in 1951/53....
    Have the republicans learnt any thing? It was Republicans then and it is Republicans today.

    Republicans used to call women and African Americans as irrational...

    Now they call Iran Irrational...One needs to tell them the famous saying that we don't see reality as how it is but how we are!

    Definition of insanity to do the same thing and expect something different in terms of a result or an outcome...

    Despite sanction for 40 years IRI is now more powerful than before....More that 60% of Iran population is under 40 with median age if 30 aka the majority had nothing to do with the revolution US sanctions is hurting average person and not the elite...

    Collective punishment is vile and savage in my opinion....Nazi used to do it to villages to stop resistance...

    Republicans are doing that to the youth in Iran in the name of human rights!

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News
Download on the App Store Get it on Google Play