Iran to Respond to Any Action against its Oil Shipments

Cheryl Sanders
March 15, 2019

If the Israeli Navy attempts to hamper Iran's oil sales, Tehran "will firmly respond", the Iranian Minister of Defence Amir Hatami stated Wednesday.

The United States wants to slash Iran's crude-oil exports by some 20 percent beginning in May by demanding that importers reduce purchases or face US sanctions, Reuters news agency reports.

The United States granted Italy, Greece, Turkey, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan temporary waivers to import Iranian oil when the USA reimposed the sanctions in November.

According to the Iranian Minister, in case of such an action by Tel Aviv we will consider it piracy and if this happens, we will respond with full force.

Iran has more than 50 tankers, but this month, for example, it's using 12 of those to store oil in floating storage at sea, according to MarineTraffic data cited by Reuters.

"Whatever sector you look at, companies will keep in mind being cut off from the US financial system when deciding whether to trade with Iran", said Mehdi Varzi, an independent oil consultant who has previously worked at the state-run National Iranian Oil Co

He claimed that Iran is trying to "covertly" ship fuel over maritime routes to "circumvent" the US sanctions.

A senior Iranian official played down the threat to its oil exports because of pressure on its fleet.

On Friday, the navy intervened to repel pirates who attacked an Iranian oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden.

Mike Salthouse, with the International Group, which represents companies that insure about 90 percent of the world's commercial shipping, said Western insurers were very unlikely to do business with Iranian shipping companies.

Iran slipped to India's seventh-biggest oil supplier in January from its position as third-biggest a year ago, before the reimposition of sanctions.

Government sources say Reuters' calculations showing India's oil imports from Iran in this fiscal year would be higher than the 452,000 bpd, or 22.6 million tonnes, it imported in the previous year, were correct.

While tracking Iran's oil exports has become an increasingly hard task after the US sanctions returned, some of the key Iranian oil customers that received USA waivers resumed buying Iran's oil in 2019 or increased imports to their respective ceiling allowed under the waivers, after an initial "wait-and-see mode" for November and December purchases amid uncertainties as to who was getting waivers.

Brian Hook, the State Department's special representative on Iran, on March 13 reiterated the US policy, telling an industry conference in Houston that Washington was committed to bringing Iranian crude exports to zero.

Other reports by iNewsToday