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Iran’s Oil Exports Climb to the Highest Level in 6 Years

Crude oil exports from Iran hit the highest level in six years during the first quarter of the year, data from Vortexa cited by the Financial Times has shown.

The daily average over the period stood at 1.56 million barrels, almost all of which was sent to China, earning Tehran some $35 billion.

"The Iranians have mastered the art of sanctions circumvention," Fernando Ferreira, head of geopolitical risk service at Rapidan Energy Group, told the FT. "If the Biden administration is really going to have an impact, it has to shift the focus to China."

The news comes as the EU and the United States prepare new sanctions against Iran in a bid to convince Israel to not retaliate against Tehran after the latter's drone and missile attack on Israeli military targets last weekend.

Iran's oil industry would be the no-brainer target for new sanctions as suggested by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

"Clearly, Iran is continuing to export some oil. There may be more that we could do. I don't want to preview our actual sanctions activities, but certainly, that remains in focus as a possible area that we could address," Yellen said earlier this week as quoted by Reuters.

Analysts, however, have told the FT that the Biden administration is reluctant to tighten the sanction noose too much as this would inevitably lead to an increase in oil prices that a president running for re-election cannot really afford in an election year.

That's especially relevant in light of the fact that the federal government would hardly be able to repeat the SPR release from 2022 to tame prices at the pump as the reserve sits at the lowest level in 40 years after that 2022 release.

Also, any heavy-handed action against Iran's oil exports would affect relations with China, which is virtually the only outlet for Iranian crude. That crude, according to the FT, covers a tenth of China's total oil imports.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry. More

Comments

  • Danny None Yourbusiness - 19th Apr 2024 at 8:39am:
    "Analysts, however, have told the FT that the Biden administration is reluctant to tighten the sanction noose too much as this would inevitably lead to an increase in oil prices that a president running for re-election cannot really afford in an election year."

    That comment says it all. Joe: "I don't care if the middle east is on fire, I just want to be re-elected"
  • Mamdouh Salameh - 18th Apr 2024 at 7:31am:
    US sanctions on Iran, Russia and Venezuela have so far proven a failure. And with Iran having particularly perfected the art of evading sanctions, neither additional and harsher sanctions will fare better than the existing ones nor would shifting the focus on China succeed. China doesn't only ignore US sanctions but it takes great pleasure in defying them.

    Moreover, the Biden administration would hardly be able to withdraw more SPR oil having failed with the 291 million barrels it withdrew since coming to the White House to even make the slightest dent on oil prices.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert
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