Iran is going to offer its crude to Asian buyers, to be delivered in January, at US$1 per barrel less than this month, Reuters reports, citing a pricing document. The official selling price of Iranian Light crude was set at US$0.30 above the Platts Dubai/Oman average for January.
This makes Iranian Light US$0.30 a barrel cheaper than Saudi Arab Light, with Iranian Heavy costing US$1.25 less per barrel than the Kingdom’s Arab Medium grade, Reuters calculates.
The biggest buyers of both Iranian and Saudi crude are India and China, and now both countries are expected to boost their intake of Iranian oil after they were granted U.S. sanction relief for six months following the reimposition of sanctions on November 5.
Keeping its discounts in place is the only way for Iran to ensure buyers continue paying for its crude in the context of sanctions. That and finding payment mechanisms that do not trigger punitive measures from Washington.
Earlier today Reuters quoted President Hassan Rouhani as saying exports of crude had improved from a month ago.
“The goal of the Americans was to block our oil exports. I want to say frankly to our people that our oil exports after (Nov. 4) have improved by degrees,” Rouhani said on state TV. “So the Americans have been unsuccessful with regard to the oil issue.”
Iran was also exempted from the latest oil production cut agreed by OPEC and its partners led by Russia. Like Venezuela and Libya, Iran was allowed to continue pumping oil at current rates, which are below 3 million barrels daily.
Iran’s tracked oil exports in November plummeted by several hundred thousand barrels per day compared to October, as many Iranian customers hadn’t nominated barrels amid uncertainty whether they would get U.S. waivers to continue importing Iran’s oil after the sanctions retuned.
“Iranian crude exports so far in November are down several hundred thousand barrels per day from October levels,” Daniel Gerber, chief executive officer at tanker-tracking company Petro-Logistics, told Reuters on Thursday.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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It is high time you realize, Ms Slav, that China and India did not need US sanction waivers to continue to purchase Iranian crude and that they would have continued buying Iranian crude with or without waivers. I told you before that China is the world’s biggest economy and a nuclear power to boost. It is not Djibouti. It doesn’t need America’s permission to buy Iranian crude. I hope you realize this before you continue peddling the same old unsubstantiated arguments.
Furthermore, the whole US sanction regime is at the mercy of China. It could nullify US sanctions by buying the entire Iranian crude exports estimated at 2.2 million barrels a day (mbd) and paying for them in petro-yuan.
As for India, it is also the world’s third biggest economy based on purchasing power parity (PPP) and also a nuclear power to boot. It doesn’t either need US permission to buy Iranian crude. Furthermore, it doesn’t recognize US sanctions against Iran.
US sanctions have so far failed to cost Iran the loss of a single barrel of oil. Even Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has confirmed that Iranian oil exports have improved despite the sanctions. This is not an indication that Iran has been losing any of its crude exports. Furthermore, when you make a claim, you have to support it with evidence otherwise it remains a mere claim.
Iran was exempted from the cuts because it would have been ridiculous to ask a country facing US sanctions to cut production and moreover, Iran would have ignored the request anyway.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London