Iran shrugs off EU oil embargo

A European Union embargo on Iranian oil went into effect on Sunday, provoking anger in Tehran which says the measure will hurt talks with world powers over its sensitive nuclear activities.

Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi sought to downplay the embargo as just the latest punishment in decades of ineffective sanctions.

Iranian leaders have insisted they will forge ahead with their atomic programme, regardless of the Western restrictions and others imposed by the UN Security Council.

Oil market observer bodies and analysts say the embargo, coupled with US financial sanctions ramped up on Thursday, are gutting Iran's vital oil exports, which account for half of government revenues.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) says Iran crude exports in May appear to have slipped to 1.5 million barrels per day (mbpd) as the market braced for the embargo, well below the 2.1-2.2 mbpd Iran insists it continues to sell abroad.

"The sanctions have had no effect on Iran and will have none," Qasemi was quoted as saying on Sunday by the ISNA news agency.

"I do not see a problem in our enemies starting the sanctions as of today (Sunday), since these sanctions have existed for many years and nothing has happened and one should not anticipate anything new," he was also quoted as saying on the website of state broadcaster IRIB.

Qasemi and other officials admitted the "illogical" embargo had reduced exports to EU nations, but they said other nations had stepped forward to buy the oil.

"While we collectively exported 18 percent of our oil to them before, it is not difficult to substitute customers for this much oil in the world," Qasemi said.

It was not possible to verify that claim because Iran has turned off the mandatory location transponders on most of its fleet of 39 oil tankers.

The IEA and experts say most of the tankers remain anchored off Iran and are being used to store up to 42 million barrels of oil unable to be exported.

Before the embargo, Europe bought some 600,000 bpd from Iran, which sent two-thirds of its exports to China, India, Japan and South Korea.

The United States has granted exemptions to those Asian countries from its new sanction imposed on Thursday that targets foreign companies doing business with Iran.

That move averted a potential diplomatic row with China, Iran's biggest oil customer, which greatly increased Iran crude purchases last month after a sharp dip earlier this year because of a commercial dispute with Iran. Beijing refuses to go along with the Western sanctions.

Non-EU nations wanting to buy Iranian oil face an obstacle in insuring the tanker shipments, as more than 90 percent of such insurance is by EU companies now barred from underwriting Iran oil delivery contracts. China gets around that by having its companies insure the tankers.

The EU embargo is the latest -- and most punishing -- of a raft of international sanctions designed to pressure Iran to curb its nuclear programme.

Most of the West fears that the Islamic republic is seeking to get to the cusp of being able to make nuclear weapons, despite Tehran's repeated denials.

The sanctions are part of a "carrot and stick" approach running in parallel with revived talks between Iran and the "P5+1 group" comprising UN Security Council permanent members the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China, plus non-permanent member Germany.

After three inconclusive rounds that succeeded only in defining the wide gap that exists between both sides, the talks have been downgraded to the level of experts, with the next meeting scheduled for Tuesday in Istanbul.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, warned the EU in a letter on Thursday that the new EU and US sanctions will have "repercussions" on the talks. He did not elaborate.

Iran has threatened to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the oil-rich Gulf if its nuclear programme is targeted by air strikes that Israel and the United States reserve as an option.

That threat, repeated since December, helped propel oil prices to a four-year high of $128 for a barrel of Brent North Sea reference crude in early March.

But since then overproduction by Saudi Arabia making up for the shortfall in Iranian exports, and fears of an economic dip caused by EU debt woes and China's manufacturing slowdown, have pushed oil prices to below $100 a barrel.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • OIC asked to complete review of peace pact with MNLF
    OIC asked to complete review of peace pact with MNLF

    The Philippine government is asking the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to finally complete the tripartite review process of the implementation of the 1996 peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The review – snagged  for several years as government had its hands full with the peace process with rival faction Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – tackles how the 1996 peace pact with the MNLF has been implemented and centers on the three remaining …

  • Alleged Binay dummies appear in Senate probe
    Alleged Binay dummies appear in Senate probe

    Eight of the resource persons ordered arrested by the Senate finally attended the 21st public hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee into the alleged anomalies involving Vice President Jejomar Binay, but the proceedings turned out to be a review of matters previously presented. For over three hours, the subcommittee heard presentations regarding the alleged hidden assets of Binay and the issue regarding the supposed P200 million in kickbacks he received from a deal between the Boy …

  • DOJ wraps up Mamasapano probe
    DOJ wraps up Mamasapano probe

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) is wrapping up its investigation into the “massacre” of 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. A joint team of prosecutors and NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) investigators is about to finish the second part,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has told congressmen. She was responding to questions raised by former senior police officer and now Rep. Samuel Pagdilao of party-list …

  • APEC meet in Bataan seen to boost tourism
    APEC meet in Bataan seen to boost tourism

    BALANGA CITY, Bataan – More than 2,000 delegates of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and international media outfits are expected to enjoy the splendid coastline of Bagac town, which faces the West Philippine Sea, as they converge for a workshop in this province next month. …

  • DOST opens P54-M research facility
    DOST opens P54-M research facility

    A P54-million research and development facility of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) was recently opened in Bicutan, Taguig for scientists and researchers to develop technology and techniques to allow Filipino fashion and clothing designers and manufacturers to produce more mainstream products from local, tropical fabrics like piña, banana and abaca. Science Secretary Mario Montejo said the Innovation Center for Yarns and Textiles (ICYT) is the DOST’s flagship effort at reviving …

  • DFA worried about alleged violations of convicted Pinoys’ rights
    DFA worried about alleged violations of convicted Pinoys’ rights

    Philippine embassy officials in Doha have raised their concern with Qatari authorities over coercion and human rights violations in the alleged forcing of three Filipino workers convicted of spying to provide information and confess to the crime. Speaking to reporters, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose yesterday said the embassy has raised the matter during several high-level meetings with Qatari officials and the national human rights committee in Qatar. “Our embassy …

  • US affirms ‘ironclad’ promise to defend Phl
    US affirms ‘ironclad’ promise to defend Phl

    US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told his Philippine counterpart on Wednesday that Washington’s pledge to defend the Pacific nation remains “ironclad” and called for an end to land reclamation in the South China Sea, officials said. In talks in Hawaii with Voltaire Gazmin, Philippine secretary of national defense, the Pentagon chief “reaffirmed” the strong ties between the two countries and discussed territorial disputes in the contested waters of the South China Sea, where Beijing has been …

  • ‘Conflict to affect economic growth, stability in SEA’
    ‘Conflict to affect economic growth, stability in SEA’

    Conflict in the South China Sea can affect economic growth and stability in Southeast Asia, New Zealand warned yesterday, amid China’s aggressive reclamation activities in disputed waters. New Zealand is marking its 40 th year of diplomatic ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and hopes to intensify trade and other linkages with the 10-member grouping. ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have overlapping territorial claims with China over the Spratly …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options