Iran to continue oil exports despite U.S. sanctions

Japanese and South Korean refiners are expected to resume Iranian crude imports in January

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated that the country will continue to export oil despite U.S. sanctions. According to Rouhani, this pressure is part of a psychological war that is destined to fail.

By reimposing sanctions on OPEC’s third-biggest crude producer, Washington wants to force Tehran to drop its ballistic missile programs. Similarly, the U.S. wants to further curb its nuclear work and limit its support for proxy militias from Syria to Lebanon and Yemen.

“We will not yield to this pressure, which is part of the psychological war launched against Iran,” Rouhani said in a speech in the city of Khoy, broadcast live on state television.

“They have failed to stop our oil exports. We will keep exporting it. Your regional policies have failed and you blame Iran for that failure from Afghanistan to Yemen and Syria,” he added.

Meanwhile, his public chanted “Death to America!”

“America is isolated now”

Rouhani said Washington lacked the necessary international support for its sanctions, and noted that it had granted temporary waivers to eight major buyers of Iranian oil.

“America is isolated now. Iran is supported by many countries. Except for the Zionist regime (Israel) and some countries in the region, no other country backs America’s pressure on Iran,” he said.

The European Union, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China, participants with the United States in the 2015 deal that lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program, have been trying to find ways to circumvent the U.S. limitations.

In particular, the EU has been trying to establish a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for non-dollar trade with Iran.

But this has not stopped foreign businesses ranging from oil companies and trading houses to firms leaving Iran for fear of incurring U.S. penalties.

South Korea to purchase Iranian crude in January

Japanese and South Korean refineries are expected to resume Iranian crude imports in January. Both countries received waivers from U.S. sanctions on Tehran.

Japan and South Korea were among Iran’s top five oil buyers. Crude exports are one of the pillars of the nation’s economy.

South Korean refiners are planning to maintain crude imports from Iran at zero until the end of the year. Nonetheless, they are set to resume imports between January and February.

“They are seeking to get the best price and we are in talks with Iran,” a source from Europapress stated. Most tankers are reserved until December and so the country plans to purchase Iranian oil as of January.

“There are some issues to be cleared like payment. We are not able to buy it at the moment and are not rushing,” a second source said. “Iran is also trying not to sell it cheaper. We ... won’t import Iran oil until perhaps after January,” he added.

Japan to also resume imports in early 2019

Top Japanese oil companies are also planning to resume Iranian crude liftings in 2019. Fuji Oil, one of Iran’s top oil buyers, is also planning to resume imports in January.

Moreover, Fuji is considering signing a new contract to import Iranian crude, as a senior executive explained last week. The executive added that the country’s oil has a competitive price.

JXTG Holdings, the largest refiner in Japan, stated it could resume Iranian crude loadings in December. However, Japanese companies have decided to buy Iranian oil through February loadings.

Also, imports of Iranian crude could be halted once again in March while waiting for the government to extend sovereign ship insurance into the new fiscal year starting on April 1.

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