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Despite having obtained U.S. waivers to continue importing Iranian oil, Italy and Greece have stopped buying Iran’s crude, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said on Tuesday.
“Among the Europeans, except for Turkey, no other nation has purchased oil from Iran. Greece and Italy refuse to buy Iran’s oil despite winning waivers. Nor do they respond to our correspondence,” the oil ministry’s news service Shana quoted Zangeneh as saying.
Italy and Greece are among the eight countries that received U.S. waivers to continue importing oil from Iran at reduced rates until early May 2019. Italy and Greece, alongside Turkey and major Asian oil buyers China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, are the eight Iranian customers allowed to continue imports in limited volumes.
The Iranian oil minister also described the U.S. sanctions as a “unilateral war against Iran’s petroleum industry,” according to Shana.
Asked to disclose how much oil Iran has been exporting since the U.S. imposed sanctions on its oil and shipping industries in early November, Zangeneh continued to stick to the Iranian policy not to comment or reveal export figures until its oil is no longer under U.S. sanctions.
“I don’t announce any figure about oil exports,” the oil minister said, adding that he would not say how Iran plans to skirt the U.S. sanctions either.
In separate comments regarding the U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry, Zangeneh said, “We condemn the US [punitive] actions against Venezuela. Nonetheless, these actions have affected the oil market.”
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The four major Asian buyers of Iranian oil—China, India, Japan, and South Korea—have recently resumed buying limited volumes of Iranian crude oil, after a period of around a month and a half in which they had to clarify how much and under what conditions they would purchase oil from Iran.
Those four major Asian buyers saw their combined crude oil imports from Iran drop to a three-year low in 2018, due to the return of the U.S. sanctions—last year’s Iranian purchases of the four Asian buyers were at their lowest since 2015, the last year before the previous sanctions on Iran were lifted. Although the fresh U.S. sanctions kicked in only in November, Asian importers began reducing their imports of Iranian oil earlier, with South Korea completely suspending imports in August.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.