Iran’s Oil Minister said on Wednesday that crude oil exports are rebounding after being hit by a European embargo in July, describing for Parliament the strategies by which the Islamic Republic says it is countering punitive measures imposed by the West over Tehran’s nuclear programme.
Rostam Qassemi did not provide figures. But some analysts say that exports had fallen in July by as much as 40 per cent, hitting a sector that counts for four-fifths of the country’s foreign revenue. His comments carried by the semi-official Mohr news agency appear part of wider efforts by Iranian officials to show that Iran can ride out the sanctions.
“We have no problem selling our oil,” Qassemi said. “Iran’s crude oil exports are increasing. With the increase in exports, the way has been paved for more currency income.”
The minister told legislators that Iran has found ways to provide insurance to tankers carrying Iranian crude oil to Asian customers, bypassing one of the legal obstacles aimed at discouraging companies from buying and trading in Iranian oil.
“Foreign contractors imposed insurance sanctions on oil tankers. Now we have bypassed those sanctions. Currently, there is no problem to providing insurance to tankers carrying Iran’s crude oil,” the semi-official Mohr news agency quoted Qassemi as saying.
He did not provide details, but Iran had earlier said it was setting up private insurance companies — a possible way by which the country is using its ample oil earnings to offer incentives to offset sanctions.
The US and Europe have imposed a range of sanctions on Iran over nuclear activities that the West claims are aimed at developing a weapon. Iran says its programme is for peaceful purposes.
The International Energy Agency says Iran’s oil exports plunged to 1 million barrels a day in July from 1.74 million barrels a day in June after an embargo by the European Union, which accounted for around 18 percent of Iran’s exports.
Crude oil exports account for about 80 per cent of Iran’s foreign revenue.
The 27-nation European Union stopped all contracts with Tehran on July 1. Meanwhile, the US has been pressuring Iran’s key Asian oil customers such as China, India, South Korea and Japan to look to other suppliers.
China, India, Japan and South Korea are among Iran’s most important oil export markets. The US has exempted its allies South Korea and Japan from US sanctions after they significantly reduced their imports of Iranian oil.
India and Japan are already offering government-backed insurance for ships carrying Iranian crude in order to bypass European sanctions.