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02 November 2018, 02:10 | Kelvin Horton
Rouhani: Iran does not fear new US sanctions on energy, banking sectors
According to sources in the know, India is close to a deal with the USA that will allow it to continue buying crude oil from Iran without attracting any sanction after it agreed to cut imports and escrow payments.
Hours before he spoke, Iranian President Hassan Rohani warned Iranians they could face more economic hardship in the months ahead as the USA imposes a new round of sanctions.
Already, through its pressure campaign, the USA has managed to reduce Iran's oil exports from 2.7 million to 1.6 million barrels a month, according to internal US estimates.
The U.S. had called for all countries to "zero out" their oil purchases from Iran, which India has not done.
How companies will pay for Iranian oil is still being negotiated between India and Iran, sources said, adding that it's likely that the two countries will stick to the existing mechanism under which 55% of payment is made in euro and 45% in rupee through UCO Bank.
With an over 30% reduction in imports of oil from Iran in the past few months, India is hoping to be eligible for a waiver on Iran oil sanctions from this weekend.
USA crude inventories rose by 3.22 million barrels for a sixth week, the longest streak of gains since March 2017, the Energy Information Administration reported Wednesday.
"The waivers granted to these eight countries show that the market needs Iran's oil and it can not be pulled out of the market".
Lack of clarity is still dominant regarding both Iranian exports and potential USA waivers, but Iran's top two oil buyers-China and India-are not bringing their imports down to zero.
But the rally petered out in recent weeks amid market fears about a slowing global economy and as expectations grew that Iran would be allowed still to export significant amounts.
Prices pared earlier losses on Friday after Bloomberg news reported that U.S. President Donald Trump wants to reach an agreement on trade with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 nations summit in Argentina later this month and has asked key U.S. officials to begin drafting potential terms.
"We think Trump will agree to China importing some volumes, similar to the treatment that India and South Korea receive", Clayton Allen of Height Securities said in a note on Friday.
Another country that has been seeking a sanctions waiver is Turkey.
South Korea's Foreign Ministry declined to comment, and Japanese officials were not immediately available for comment.
U.S. hardliners want to press ahead on SWIFT, but others argue to keep the option as a bargaining card with the Europeans and say that SWIFT access remains useful in tracking Iranian transactions.
Other countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan, also depend on some imports from Iran.
Consultancy, JBC Energy, said the oil price weakness was "probably driven by the wider negative market sentiment amid speculation about additional United States tariffs on Chinese imports, should upcoming talks fail to produce the desired results". The United Arab Emirates imports large amounts of Iranian fuel oil to power ships and Egypt imports oil from Iran for the Sumed pipeline.
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