Donald Trump began reimposing sanctions on Iranian oil in early November after breaching the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and six other global powers. In May, he ended a sanctions waiver for the eight largest importers of Iranian oil, aiming to stamp out Iranian oil exports.
The sanctions have sharply depreciated Iran’s currency, the rial.
The move has put the regime in Tehran under extreme financial pressure while also helping to prop up the oil price amid rising US exports.
Iran exported an estimated 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil last month, according to Refinitiv Eikon, although the Iranian authorities have made efforts to avoid international detection to dodge Trump’s sanctions. If light condensate oil is included, estimated shipments reached about 120,000 bpd.
“We have managed to take almost 2.7 million barrels of crude oil off of the market, denying Iran the wealth to create their terror campaign around the world, and we have managed to keep the oil markets fully supplied,” Pompeo declared.
“I am confident we can continue to do that.”
Pompeo said any nation that “touches” the Iranian oil tanker that recently left Gibraltar risked US sanctions.
It was detained over fears that it was heading for Syria, an Iranian ally, in violation of European Union sanctions. The authorities in the UK-run enclave rejected repeated US attempts to seize the tanker.
Gibraltar’s administration said it could not seek a court order because US sanctions against Iran were not applicable in the European Union.
Pompeo added that if Iran was successful in profiting from the tanker’s cargo, its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps would have “more money, more wealth, more resources to continue their terror campaign”.
After leaving Gibraltar, the supertanker carrying 2.1 million barrels of oil appeared to be heading for Greece and it was recently reported northwest of the Algerian port of Oran.
Iran has denied it was ever heading for Syria.
The removal of Iranian oil from the markets has not increased prices.
The international benchmark Brent crude price has been relatively weak, falling yesterday (Tuesday) to US$59 a barrel from a 2019 peak of US$75 when the price was forecast to reach US$100.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Picture credit: Flickr