US zero exports target impossible in tight market: Iran
A senior Iranian oil official says the United States will fail to drive Iranian oil exports down to zero as the market is already tight and rival producers are not able to make up the shortfall.
Iran's OPEC governor, Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, told Reuters on Friday that a "supply shortage" showed that Washington would not be able to meet its zero exports target.
"There is no spare capacity anywhere," he added.
The US administration of President Donald Trump is seeking to cut Iran's oil exports completely by November 4 as it re-imposes sanctions on Tehran.
It is also encouraging other oil producers such as Saudi Arabia, Russia and other member states of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to pump more to meet the shortfall.
The US National Security Adviser John Bolton said last month that the United States is exerting maximum pressure on the government of Iran to change its behavior, adding that Washington is prepared to use sanctions to drive Iranian oil exports down to zero.
Regime change in Iran is not American policy, but what we want is massive change in the regime's behavior, Bolton said, adding, We are going to do other things to put pressure on Iran as well, beyond economic sanctions."
An expected loss of Iranian oil, declining supply from another OPEC member, Venezuela, and other outages are boosting crude prices, which this week hit $80 a barrel, the highest since May.
President Trump withdrew Washington in May from the landmark Iran nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries in 2015, and decided to re-impose unilateral sanctions against Tehran.
Under the deal, Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions.
In defiance of warnings from the European Union, the JCPOA signatories and many international players, Trump signed an executive order on August 6 re-imposing a first round of sanctions on Iran, which were lifted under the nuclear deal, to levy "maximum economic pressure" on the Islamic Republic.
The sanctions cover Iran's purchases of dollars, its trade in gold and precious metals, and its automotive sector. Further sanctions on oil and transactions with the central bank of Iran will come into effect on November 4.
Under the US pressure to lower oil prices, the OPEC and its allies agreed in June to boost production, having participated in a supply-cutting deal in place since 2017.
Despite an increase in OPEC production since then, Saudi Arabia has added less crude than it initially announced.
The Iranian OPEC governor has voiced skepticism that other producers can add much more oil.
Back in August, Kazempour Ardebili said the US president has apparently been duped by Saudi Arabia into believing that the kingdom can replace Iranian barrels cut from the market.
"It seems President Trump has been taken hostage by Saudi Arabia and a few producers when they claimed they can replace 2.5 million barrels per day of Iranian exports, encouraging him to take action against Iran," he added.
The White House has announced that Saudi Arabia's King Salman had promised Trump to raise oil production and that the kingdom had two million barrels per day of spare capacity to boost output to offset a decline in supply from Iran.
Source: Press TV