Iran’s oil sector in the wake of fresh US sanctions

Iran’s oil sector in the wake of fresh US sanctions

Persia Digest- Following the implementation of the JCPOA, the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1, and the resulting easing of anti-Iran sanctions, the country's oil industry was revived and injected some fresh air. The previous sanctions had served as a roadblock to foreign companies seeking to invest in Iran's oil sector. But the post-deal era has offered opportunities for a refilling of Iran's oil barrels, such that in four months, the output level reached 4 million barrels, with the daily capita rising from one million to two million barrels.

Another gain for the oil industry following the deal is the considerable length of the buyers’ list, which was once limited to a small number of Asian countries. In the post-JCPOA era, by winter 2016, however, the list welcomed 15 European countries while keeping the previous ones.  The total daily amount of oil purchased by those customers, most of them based in Europe, now stands at 700,000 barrels. The major buyers which have already signed long-term contracts with Iran’s National Oil Company are France’s Total, Italy’s Saras, Greece’s Hellenic Petroleum, Russia’s LUKOIL, Spain’s CEPSA, Italy’s Eni, and Turkey's Taprash.
 

The following is the average daily imports of Iranian oil (in barrels) by those customers in the past year: French Total: 160,000, Hellenic Petroleum: 60,000, Saras: 30,000-65,000, LUKOIL: 80,000, CEPSA: 60,000, Taprash: 150,000. A similar trend is expected to be maintained in 2017. The National Iranian Oil Company, NIOC has recently inked a deal with Italy’s Eni on the sale of 100,000 barrels in 2017. The contract went into effect as of January.

In addition to those long-term deals, the NIOC has also agreed on one-shipment contracts to export oil to six European companies, which include Austria’s O.M.V Group, Italy’s Eni, Poland’s Lotos and P.K.N Orlen, Hungary’s M.O.L , Britain’s Shell and B.P., Switzerland’s Vitol, and Spain’s Repsol. Now, with that booming industry continuing to grow, Iranian oil officials have announced a 3.3-billion dollar jump in oil revenues in recent months. 

Those figures and the expanding interaction between Iran’s oil sector and the outside world come in contrast to the assumption that the inauguration of new US President Donald Trump would restore the earlier restrictions on Iranian oil exports and foreign contracts. The assumption was further strengthened following Trump’s executive order on banning Iranians from entering the United States as well as the fresh sanctions his administration slapped on several Iranian companies and individuals.

Ali Kardar, the managing director of the NIOC has, however, ruled out the idea that Trump’s policies would technically affect the intentions of foreign investors on oil deals with Iran.

“The latest sanctions have so far left no impact upon business ties between other countries and Iran’s oil industry. In fact, visits by foreign delegations in the past few weeks, which all took place following Trump’s inauguration, bear full witness to that,” Kardar told Iran Students News Agency. “Those firms have been asked to cut ties with Iran’s oil sector, but they have ignored the warning.”

Kardar also noted that Iran expects Europeans to take a united stance on the matter. The Iranian official added that the only concern at the moment is the banking challenge, which if tackled, would pave the way for an even greater presence of foreign oil firms in Iran.

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