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Iran is forging oil export documents so it can pass its oil on the market as non-Iranian crude, thus skirting the U.S. sanctions on its oil industry and exports, according to Iran’s top oil official.
“What we export is not under Iran’s name. The documents are changed over and over, as well as specifications,” various media reported Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh as quoted as saying in parliament by the website of the state-held National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).
Since the U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil industry and exports in May 2018, the Islamic Republic has been using various tactics to ship crude abroad without being detected, including by tankers switching off transponders or documents stating the oil does not originate from Iran.
The reported comments from Zanganeh is an open admission by Iran that it is using every method available to increase its exports by hiding the origin of its oil.
So far in September, Iran is estimated to have exported nearly 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil and condensate, TankerTrackers told Reuters last week, in what would be the highest level of Iranian exports in a year and a half and double the observed exports in August.
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Two other tanker-tracking firms have also seen an increase in Iranian oil exports so far in September, although not as much as TankerTrackers.com has found, according to Reuters.
Zanganeh also said last week that “America has waged a war against Iran with no blood,” referring to the sanctions on Iran’s oil.
Iran continues to export oil in defiance of the U.S. sanctions, and it seems to have recently increased its oil exports despite the fact that official figures still put the shipments at very low levels.
China, for example, the world’s largest oil importer, is likely receiving much more oil from Iran than the official figures report, according to various reports, media investigations, and tanker-tracking firms.
In August, Iran was exporting a lot more crude oil than U.S. figures suggest, data from TankerTrackers.com revealed, as reported by NBC News.
By Josh Owens for Oilprice.com
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Josh Owens is the Content Director at Oilprice.com. An International Relations and Politics graduate from the University of Edinburgh, Josh specialized in Middle East and…
That is why the sanctions have failed to cripple Iran’s oil industry and stop its oil exports. Iran is exporting its crude openly and in increasing volumes to China, India and Turkey and covertly to many other countries around the world using barter trade, ship-to-ship transfer and now forging oil documents as admitted by no less than its own oil minister.
In fact, Iran is reported to have exported 1.5 million barrels a day (mbd) of its crude in September. This amounts to 68% of its pre-sanctions exports.
And, yet a US Congressional report was claiming that US sanctions have caused Iranian crude exports to decline to an estimated 227,000 barrels a day (b/d).
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London