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The United States has urged Hong Kong to be on the lookout for an oil tanker carrying Iranian oil presumably that may be on its way to China, in violation of US sanctions against the Middle Eastern country, according to Reuters.
China has historically been Iran’s largest crude oil customer, although China has significantly increased its crude oil purchases from Saudi Arabia since the onset of US sanctions.
The oil tanker, known as the Pacific Bravo (formerly Silver Glory), was originally headed to Indonesia, Refinitive Eikon data showed, according to Reuters, but changed course on Monday to head toward Sri Lanka.
The Pacific Bravo flies under the Liberian flag, but a senior US official claims the oil tanker is owned by China’s Bank of Kunlun, which is the official handler of money between China and Iran. Bank of Kunlun is owned by CNPC’s financial arm, CNPC capital.
“Anyone who does business with this ship, the Pacific Bravo, would be exposing themselves to U.S. sanctions,” the senior official said, adding that the US will “enforce our Iran sanctions quite aggressively and quite consistently.”
The news comes as Indian news outlet ThePrint reported on Tuesday that India would ultimately resume purchases of Iranian crude oil despite the sanctions. India is Iran’s second-largest crude oil purchaser.
While India and China may be bold enough to thumb their noses at US sanctions on Iran’s crude oil, they may have difficulty finding willing insurers and shipping companies to do the same.
Iran has been consistently adamant that the United States would be unable to drive its oil exports to zero, and has engaged in covert shipments of oil and fuel, including forging documents to subvert the United States’ plan to restrict its oil exports.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.