Three of eight importers granted 180-day sanctions waivers by Washington last November to buy oil from Iran have now cut their shipments to zero, a US official said on April 2.
The official did not name the countries, but in early February Iran criticised Greece and Italy for, without explanation, not buying shipments of Iranian crude despite their possession of waivers. Tehran said Turkey was the only European country buying its oil.
The other five waiver holders are China, India, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.
The US has forecast that improved global oil market conditions will help it reduce Iranian crude exports further as it pursues its goal of eventually reducing them to zero in line with a sanctions regime designed to strangle Iran’s economy to the point that the Iranians are forced to renegotiate their Middle East activities and policies.
The Trump administration is in consultations with the importers of Iranian oil which hold waivers ahead of the May 2 deadline when the exemptions expire.
“In November, we granted eight oil waivers to avoid a spike in the price of oil. I can confirm today three of those importers are now at zero,” Brian Hook, the special US envoy for Iran, told reporters.
“There are better market conditions for us to accelerate our path to zero,” Hook said. “We are not looking to grant any waivers or exceptions to our sanctions regime.”
Hook claimed US oil sanctions had removed around 1.5mn barrels of Iranian oil exports from the market since May 2018. “This has denied the [Iranian] regime access to well over $10bn in revenue—a loss of at least $30mn a day,” he said.
Some analysts predict that the White House will likely agree to extend the waivers to the remaining five importers of Iranian oil to assuage top buyers China and India and lower the chance of higher oil prices.
China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey are likely to be given waivers that could cap Iran’s crude oil exports at about 1.1mn barrels per day, US-based analysts at Eurasia Group said in January.
Hook said a total of 23 importers that once took Iranian oil had cut imports to zero.
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