Europe Keeps Buying Iran Oil, But Banks May Hinder Trade


Iran is OPEC's third-largest producer with an output of about 3.8m barrels per day, making up around 4% of global oil supply.

One factor that could partially mitigate any shortfall from Iran is soaring United States oil output. "While prices are now rising on Trump's decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran, we may see some limitations to the rally as any lost volumes can be supplied by other producing nations".

Amidst the still "wait-and-see" mode in Europe-especially when financing crude oil trade is concerned-Iran says that its oil exports will not be disrupted by the re-imposition of sanctions.

A senior official with a Chinese oil major, who declined to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said new sanctions would hurt Chinese refiners by pushing up the price of crude.

Iran re-emerged as a major oil exporter in 2016 after worldwide sanctions against it were lifted in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

"We expect that around October Iranian exports will be down by 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) and eventually fall by 1 million bpd", the bank said.

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Under the previous round of sanctions, India received waivers to purchase oil from Iran in rupees, rather than US dollars, and now pays for Iranian oil using euros via European bank payment channels.

Iranian crude oil shipments to Japan and South Korea have fallen by half from their post-sanction peak in March 2017, hitting just over 300,000 bpd in April, according to ship tracking data. But Europe is unlikely to do so.

Al-Jubeir praised Mr Trump's decision, insisting the deal was "flawed".

"The impact (of new sanctions) in India will be there, but not so high", said R Ramachandran, head of refineries at state-owned oil firm Bharat Petroleum Corp.

The official further noted that Iran's oil industry has gone through massive changes through years and it can not be compared with 20 years ago.

OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia indicated it was ready to act.

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Sources at trading companies tell Reuters that "It looks like you can still go on for six months", but traders expect the banks to be the key in determining whether Iran's customers in Europe can buy oil, and even if the US grants waivers to European buyers, whether they will need to reduce their volumes during the wind-down period.

The global oil market is finely balanced, with top exporter Saudi Arabia and No.1 producer Russian Federation having led efforts to curb oil supply to prop up prices.

Further downstream, butadiene (BD) prices could spiral upward amid a continued spike in crude, which has a direct link to feedstock costs, according to market players.

Saudi Arabia, for instance, has the ability to crank up output. "There is no one who will realistically choose Iran over the United States", said energy consultancy FGE. By taking this step without the support of most of its allies, including those party to the JCPOA, any impact will likely be less durable, and likely more vulnerable to opportunistic arbitrage, such as China and others snatching up any Iranian crude displaced from other markets.

Sputnik: And how would the market react to Iran's decision to export oil?

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