Can Re-Imposition Of US Sanctions On Iran Cause Any Disruption In Oil Trade? – OpEd


With November 4, 2018, the date for re-imposition of U.S. sanctions against Iran drawing closer, uncertainty about how much of global oil supply will be affected is running high. Mixed signals are coming from some of Iran’s biggest oil customers. Analysts fear that uncertainty is likely to linger on even after the sanctions become effective. There is a need to understand the motive behind the US decision.

There is growing consensus that the US decision is based on achieving three key objectives: 1) weakening Iran economically to stop it from becoming a regional power. Both the US and Israel have learnt that an economically strong Iran is the biggest hurdle in maintaining their hegemony in the region, 2) by creating rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the US also succeed in selling more arms to Saudi Arabia, which has been brainwashed to an extent where the monarch considers Iran a bigger threat as compared to Israel and 3) the biggest beneficiary of high oil price is the US that has attained the status of largest oil producing country.

According to energy sector analysts, if crude price plunge below US$50/barrel most of the US shale companies will go bankrupt. It is on record that in the past when crude price touched US$147/barrel the number of active rigs rose to around 1,600. When the price plunged to less than US$40/barrel the number of active rigs declined to less than 600.

One of the objectives of western media is to keep the level of uncertainty high by promoting geopolitical crises. By keeping level of uncertainty high, speculators are facilitated and one thing has been proved without any doubt that even the hawkish statements of the US present keeps oil prices volatile.

This volatility also keeps many economic super powers subservient to the US. There are credible evidences that the association of Japanese refiners has suspended its crude oil purchases from Iran and South Korean refiners have also stopped buying Iranian crude in the hope that Washington will grant the heavily import-dependent nation a sanction waiver.

Reportedly, India’s largest refiners have not ordered any Iranian crude for November deliveries, which suggest that India might follow other countries buying oil from Iran. One can’t ignore a fact that the deadline for purchasing oil cargoes for November delivery is still a couple of weeks away. Earlier, India had indicated to use its currency to settle oil transactions with Iran.

The European Union has come up with a mechanism to continue buying oil and oil products from Iran, but analysts are skeptical about how effective it will be. The mechanism basically means transactions will use the barter principle rather than money—a mechanism the USSR used during the Cold war. Since a transaction is a transaction, with or without money, the U.S. could expand sanctions to cover barter deals also.

Some close observers of the situation warn that despite all the rhetoric from Washington, things in Iran are not as bad as being portrayed by the western media. The country has the resources to withstand the crisis. Reportedly Iran has enough to handle 1.85 million bpd in exports, and Iranian insurers are sure to provide coverage, the uncertainties continue.

After entering into different controversies, the US president has hit Saudi monarch below the belt by saying that its rule could no last beyond two weeks without the US support. Analysts say that after facing defeat in Syria and Iraq, the US seems adamant at dragging Saudi Arabia into some proxy war and putting all the blame on Iran.

A new proxy wars in Arabian Peninsula in making, US president showing disregard to different agreements, Iran being portrayed a phantom to sell arms to Saudi Arabia

Shabbir H. Kazmi

Shabbir H. Kazmi is an economic analyst from Pakistan. He has been writing for local and foreign publications for about quarter of a century. He maintains the blog ‘Geo Politics in South Asia and MENA’. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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