April 15, 2012
Iran continues to export its oil, but the oil tankers transporting its crude have disabled their onboard tracking systems, making it difficult to assess the details of its oil deals.
Iran is trying to counter Western sanctions on its oil industry that aim to cripple Iran’s economy and convince it to acquiesce to Western demands regarding its nuclear program.
Reuters cites sources in the oil industry, trading and shipping who say the National Iranian Tanker Company has ordered all its captains to “switch off the black box transponders that are used in the shipping industry to monitor vessel movements.”
An unidentified senior executive at a national oil company that has done business with Iran has told Reuters that Iran, together with its customers, is trying to conceal its oil deals, adding that the second-biggest oil producer in OPEC is probably offering “discounts in the form of free freight, finance and insurance and generous credit terms” in order to counter the international sanctions.
The EU has imposed an embargo on Iranian crude starting July 2012, and the U.S. has worked on trying to get Iran’s Asian oil customers to reduce their oil imports from Iran, threatening to penalize companies and financial institutions that have dealings with Iran.
Experts say that it is now more difficult to assess how far Iran’s crude exports have fallen. Earlier assessments in March had marked a decline of 1.9 million barrels per day.
Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Ghassemi has dismissed reports of declining oil exports, saying crude exports remain steady at last year’s rate of 2.2 million barrels a day.
Iran’s Oil Ministry has confirmed, however, that it has cut off Greece, Spain, UK, France, and Germany from its list of oil customers in response to EU sanctions, but Iran has said that it can easily replace these customers.
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