Iran doesn't expect oil customers to get sanctions waivers

By Annmarie Hordern and Golnar Motevalli on 6/22/2018

VIENNA (Bloomberg) -- Iran said it doesn’t believe buyers of its oil will get waivers from the U.S. government that would allow them to continue purchasing cargoes after President Donald Trump’s renewal of sanctions.

His comments came after American officials were said to have asked Japan to completely halt oil imports from Iran, going beyond the cuts demanded during previous Obama-era sanctions. Those curbs in 2012 removed about 1 MMbpd of crude from the market, suggesting Trump’s restrictions could have a big impact on the market.

Major international oil companies Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Total SA have halted purchases already, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said Friday in a Bloomberg television interview.

Oil companies "are having difficulty after U.S. pressure for money transfer, for transport insurance,” Zanganeh said. “I don’t believe they can receive a waiver from the United States. We are going to find some other way."

When Trump decided to re-impose restrictions on Iran last month, his administration gave buyers 180 days to curb their purchases. The request to halt Japanese imports signals a tougher stance than in 2012, when nations were allowed to continue buying at reduced levels in exchange for waivers from U.S. financial restrictions.

Most customers are still buying Iran’s oil, and there are many ways for the country to try to preserve output, Zanganeh said in Vienna after attending a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

“I can not describe these other ways,” Zanganeh said. “If the United States administration knows what we are going to do, they will block us.”

The sanctions issue was a source of contention at the summit, where Iran initially resisted efforts by fellow members to raise production and take its market share.

Iran’s Oil Ministry has prepared for a “worst scenario,” Zanganeh said, accusing Trump of acting against the free market. Iranian oil exports are close to 2.5 MMbpd this month, he said.

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