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Thread: Trump scraps Iranian nuclear deal

  1. #46
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Seems we've upped our imports of American oil

    India's oil import from US hits record levels ahead of Iran sanctions | TOI| Jul 12 2018

    HOUSTON/NEW DELHI: US crude oil exports to India hit a record in June and so far this year are almost double last year's total as the Asian nation's refiners move to replace supplies from Iran and Venezuela in a win for the Trump administration.

    US President Donald Trump's administration has been pressuring its allies to cut imports of Iranian goods to zero by November and India's shift advances the US administration efforts to use energy to further its political goals.

    The United States has become a major crude exporter, sending 1.76 million barrels per day (bpd) abroad in April, according to the latest government figures.

    All told, producers and traders in the United States will send more than 15 million barrels of US crude to India this year through July, compared with 8 million barrels in all of 2017.

    The exports to India could go higher if China imposes levies on its US oil imports over the latest round of US tariffs, which could damp Chinese purchases and lead US crude prices lower.

    Incidentally, India's monthly oil imports from Iran declined to 592,800 barrels per day (bpd) in June, down 16 per cent from May, according to data from industry and shipping sources.

    A K Sharma, head of finance at Indian Oil Corporation, the country's top refiner, said US crude is gaining appeal because of its lower cost, and could expand further if China cuts its imports of US energy.

    "If China levies a tariff on US oil then US imports to India will probably rise," he said. "We are looking for a mini-term deal to buy three to four cargoes of US oil over a period of three to six months instead of buying single cargoes."

    OPPORTUNITY FOR US

    Last month, India's oil ministry asked refiners to prepare to limit imports of Iranian oil ahead of US sanctions that take effect in November.

    The United States is reimposing sanctions after withdrawing from a 2015 agreement with Iran, Russia, China and several Western European countries where Iran agreed to curtail its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of earlier sanctions.

    Venezuelan crude shipments to the Asian country also fell 21 per cent in the first half of this year as production has been hampered by inadequate investment, mismanagement and US sanctions.

    Adding to its exports crisis, the US has been increasing sanctions on various Venezuelan nationals and companies, part of a campaign to pressure socialist President Nicolas Maduro to make political and market reforms.

    Iran and Venezuela are among India's top five oil suppliers.

    The Trump administration plans to send a delegation in the coming months to India to discuss Iran sanctions and oil issues.

    "Our focus is to work with those countries importing Iranian crude to get as many of them as possible down to zero by Nov. 4," a US State Department official said.

    The world's fourth largest refiner by capacity is "cutting back on Iranian crude imports," said Reid l'Anson, an analyst at cargo tracking firm Kpler. "That's an opportunity for US producers to sell into the Indian market. Indian demand is quite robust."

    Reuters' vessel tracking data show three of the eight tankers charted by Swiss and Chinese traders and sent to India in recent weeks were destined for a port near Reliance Industries Ltd's Jamnagar refinery, the world's largest. Three others are headed for undisclosed ports on India's west coast from the US Gulf Coast.

    Reliance did not respond to a request for comment.

    Swiss trader Vitol SA and Chinese oil companies including PetroChina last month lifted four vessels carrying 6.83 million barrels combined to western India, according to Thomson Reuters trade flow data.

    June's 228,000 bpd of US exports to India are more than double the previous export record of 98,000 bpd last September, according to US Energy Information Administration data.

    The FPMC C Melody, a very large crude carrier (VLCC), is scheduled to arrive next month at Sikka, near Jamnagar. It is carrying 1.93 million barrels of US crude, Reuters tracking data shows.

    Another Vitol-chartered VLCC, the Maharah, sailed from Galveston last week and was headed to Sikka with 1.98 million barrels of oil.

    Two more VLCCs - the Ghinah and the Eagle Victoria - were scheduled to leave the Texas coast for undisclosed ports in India this month, bringing planned US oil exports to India to at least 191,000 bpd for the month.

    Vitol and PetroChina declined to comment. A trader familiar with the Chinese company's purchases confirmed PetroChina is supplying US crude to India.



    SHIFT UNDERWAY

    Some Indian refiners have finished testing runs of US oil this year, often by mixing it with heavier grades those plants typically process, analysts and traders said.

    "They really have started to make the shift," said Olivier Jakob, managing director of energy consultancy PetroMatrix. "India is comfortable with a regular flow from the US now."

    Reliance is blending lighter US oil with heavier crudes from other nations, said a trader familiar with plant operations and trade flows. Indian refiners began testing US crudes last year, and volumes have climbed as they became confident the blends would work.

  2. #47
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Turks aren't cooperating

    Ankara Rules Out Compliance with US Sanctions on Iran | VOA | Jul 24 2018

    ISTANBUL —
    Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday ruled out his country's compliance with U.S. sanctions on Iran, a move that threatens to exacerbate tensions between the NATO allies.

    "We have told them we will not join these sanctions," said Cavusoglu, referring to a meeting last Friday with senior U.S. officials in Ankara. "While we are explaining why we will not obey these sanctions, we have also expressed that we do not find these U.S. sanctions appropriate."

    Ankara strongly opposes U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to impose sanctions after pulling out of an international agreement with Iran on its nuclear energy program. Stringent sanctions are to start taking effect at the end of August, with measures against Iranian energy exports beginning in November.

    Energy-hungry Turkey is heavily dependent on its Iranian neighbor for oil and natural gas, while Turkish businesses are eyeing Iran as an increasingly important market.

    On Friday, Marshall Billingslea, assistant secretary of the Treasury for terrorist financing, visited Ankara to meet with Turkish officials and business representatives. Billingslea described the talks as "positive" and acknowledged the difficulties faced by Turkish companies, but warned, "The Treasury sanctions will be enforced very, very aggressively and very comprehensively."

    Washington says no to any waivers for countries trading with Iran, which puts it on a collision course with Ankara.

    "We've seen this in the past. Turkey will not comply with U.S. sanctions. It will not stop importing Iranian gas and oil," said Sinan Ulgen, head of the Istanbul-based Edam research institution. "Maybe the Turkish banks will be more careful because of what happened to Halkbank, but that's about it."

    Earlier this year, a New York court convicted a senior executive of the Turkish state-controlled Halkbank for violations of previous U.S. sanctions on Iran. Analysts suggest the conviction will result in Turkish banks being reluctant to offer services to Turkish companies operating in the Islamic Republic. The Halkbank conviction also provides Washington powerful leverage over Ankara.

    "The Halkbank case is still open. The Treasury still has to decide on what kind of fine to impose," said analyst Atilla Yesilada of GlobalSource Partners. "I hear it will receive some kind of fine, from $1 billion to $10 or 11 billion. I think what kind of opinion is formed about [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and whether he can be won back to the Western camp will affect the size of that fine."

    Analysts warn that hefty fines by U.S. authorities could also hit other Turkish banks implicated in the Halkbank case.

    Iran, Russia

    Turkey's deepening relations with both Iran and Russia have strained ties with its Western allies. On Monday, the U.S. Congress delayed the delivery of F-35 jets to Turkey because of Ankara's plans to purchase S-400 Russian missiles.

    Ankara maintains that it is committed to its strategic alliances with the West, claiming trade motivates ties with Tehran and Moscow along with the need to cooperate to resolve the Syrian civil war.

    Ilnur Cevik, a senior adviser to Erdogan, penned a column Monday, citing growing concerns over Iran. Cevik accused Tehran of a lack of gratitude over Ankara's stance in breaking previous U.S.-Iranian sanctions.

    "Turkish goodwill and friendship were not reciprocated by Tehran. As soon as the Iranians signed the nuclear deal with the West, they turned their backs on Ankara and started to hurt Turkish interests. Turkish companies were unable to win contracts in Iran," wrote Cevik in the Turkish Sabah newspaper.

    Cevik also warned of the threat posed by Tehran. "There is also Iran displaying Persian expansionist policies throughout the Middle East," Cevik wrote.

    Turkey and Iran historically are regional rivals. They back opposing sides in the Syrian war. Ankara is also privately voicing frustration over Tehran's lack of cooperation in fighting the Kurdish insurgent group, PKK.

    The PKK has been waging a decades-long battle for autonomy in Turkey and has its headquarters in neighboring Iraq, close to the Iranian border. A senior Turkish official, speaking anonymously, acknowledged that an ongoing military operation to seize the PKK headquarters is undermined by Tehran's refusal to seal its border to prevent the rebels from escaping.

    "Iran is definitely a regional competitor of Turkey, no doubt about that, whether it's PKK or in the case of many other points," said international relations professor Huseyin Bagci at Ankara's Middle East Technical University.

    Bagci suggests Ankara could be more flexible toward Washington over Iranian sanctions if Washington changes its approach.

    "America unconditionally expects from Turkey that Turkey follows the line on its sanctions. Turkey cannot do this. It is economic suicide. If Turkey would follow the America policy, America should contribute to the economic losses of Turkey," Bagci said.

  3. #48
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Trickier for the businesses in the EU because the EU wants to bust american Iran sanctions

    EU struggles to counter US sanctions on Iran | FT | Jul 25 2018

    Businesses have tough decision of whether to obey European or American rules

    European efforts to protect businesses investing in Iran from US sanctions risk leaving executives with the tough choice of whether to obey EU or American rules.

    The EU is finalising its plans to mitigate the punitive measures as the Trump administration prepares to impose a new wave of sanctions next month and in November. The first batch will target trading in cars, gold and other metals; the second Iran’s oil exports and transactions with the central bank.

    The main weapon the EU has developed is an updated version of a “blocking statute” originally drawn up in the 1990s to counter US sanctions on Iran, Libya and Cuba. The law forbids European companies from complying with the US measures and allows them to recover damages arising from the sanctions “from the person causing them”.*

    But lawyers and diplomats said there are doubts over the effectiveness of a tool that has never been properly tested.

    “It’s a European policy that’s totally in contradiction to the American policy: that doesn’t happen very often,” said Jean De Ruyt, a senior adviser at Covington & Burling, the international law firm, and a former Belgian ambassador to the EU.

    The dilemma was created after Donald Trump in May withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear agreement Iran signed with world powers, including the EU, the UK, France and Germany. The European signatories are desperate to save the deal, and believe it is critical that the republic is still able to reap an economic dividend from the accord.

    But Mr Trump has suggested his administration will offer few waivers to companies. The US president used his toughest language yet against the Islamic regime this week, warning Iran it would face severe “consequences” if it threatened America. Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, this weekend said that reimposing new sanctions would equate to a “declaration of war against” the nation.

    There are also trade tensions between the US and the EU over Mr Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel imports to America.

    Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, acknowledged last week that the EU faced a “difficult exercise” in its response to the sanctions on Iran because of the “weight of the US in the global economy and financial system”.*

    “But we are determined to preserve this deal,” she said.*

    Brett Hillis, partner and sanctions expert at Reed Smith, the international law firm, said there was nothing in the EU plans that would stop a “run for the hills” by European businesses active in Iran.*He said the blocking statute was “a measure which indicates the EU’s displeasure but in no way goes far enough to move the calculus for European companies”.*

    Any punishment threatened in Europe for complying with the sanctions is likely to pale against the potential retribution in the US for ignoring them. In 2015, a US court ordered BNP Paribas, the French bank, to pay almost $9bn in fines and forfeitures over alleged violations of sanctions against Iran, Sudan and Cuba.

    European companies would also face the threat in the US of action against individual executives, exclusion from public procurement and other opportunities lost because of reputational damage.*

    To enforce the blocking statute, European authorities would also need to prove a company had violated it by withdrawing from Iran. Businesses could advance a range of defences, including that they were leaving the Islamic republic for commercial reasons.*

    European companies, including Peugeot parent PSA and French oil major Total, have already said they will halt their operations in Iran unless they secure a waiver.

    It emerged this month that the US has rebuffed a European request for a carve-out from the renewed sanctions of crucial industries, including finance, energy and healthcare.

    Roger Matthews, a senior lawyer at Dechert, said that if the EU was to give the blocking statute “enough teeth to have the effect they want, it’s just going to be a compliance nightmare with added legal expense”.*He added that European Commission guidelines expected soon should provide more clarity.

    Other EU proposals to insulate companies by offering them non-dollar denominated finance lines through institutions such as the European Investment Bank have run into troubles of their own.

    Werner Hoyer, EIB president, said last week that it would "risk the business model of the bank" if it played an “active role” in Iran.*

    European diplomats hope they can still make progress in other areas, such as providing bilateral financing lines to Tehran and measures to make payments for oil directly to Iran’s central bank. The US might also still soften its stance: Mike Pompeo, secretary of state, hinted this month that Washington may yet grant individual country requests for sanctions waivers.*

    But without such carve-outs, the impact of the EU countermeasures is likely to be largely symbolic and insufficient to persuade many big businesses to engage with Iran. “Any important European company will be afraid,” said Mr De Ruyt. “Because the US arm is long.”*


  4. #49
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    China is still bucking the sanctions

    U.S. Expects China to Buy Even More Iranian Oil After Sanctions | WSJ | Jul 17 2018

    Chinese buying of Iranian crude could blunt impact of U.S. sanctions and weigh on oil prices

    By Sarah McFarlane and Benoit Faucon
    July 17, 2018 9:17 a.m. ET
    There is one big hitch in U.S. plans to stem buying of Iranian oil: China.

    Some in Washington now expect that China will vacuum up much of the Iranian oil that other nations won’t buy because of the threat of U.S. sanctions, according to a senior U.S. government energy official.

    China buying extra Iranian oil could dull the economic impact of those sanctions. It could also bring Iran closer to China at a time of elevated tensions between Washington and Beijing over trade.

    In May, President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and vowed to reimpose sanctions on Tehran.

    Oil prices jumped sharply higher in reaction and if China does take spare Iranian crude that could add to pressure currently pushing crude lower, traders say.

    In anticipation of sanctions, foreign oil companies are already exiting Iran and international banks have declined to finance oil trades. While the European Union doesn’t back renewed sanctions, countries including Greece and Turkey, are winding down their purchases.

    But China, already the largest buyer of Iranian oil, is gearing up to take more, said the senior official. Tehran is currently in negotiations with Chinese companies to ensure that, according to an Iranian oil official involved in those talks.

    “We don’t have any problem selling our oil” to China, the Iranian official said.

    The White House referred calls to the U.S. National Security Council, which didn’t respond to emails seeking comment.

    China’s Foreign Ministry and the country’s two biggest oil companies, China National Petroleum Corp. and China Petrochemical Corp., didn’t respond to requests for comment. In the past Beijing has decried the U.S.’s resort to unilateral “long-arm” sanctions in international dealings.

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    Having initially indicated the goal was to reduce Iranian exports to zero, the U.S. government has tempered its expectations.

    Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. would consider Iran sanctions relief for a “handful” of countries. South Korea, India and a handful of other countries had a waiver to buy Iranian oil during the last round of sanctions.

    But Washington has also said that it will pursue Chinese companies with U.S. connections if they violate Iran sanctions.

    “It is our intent to enforce sanctions on Iran related oil against everybody including China,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the House Financial Services Committee last week.

    To be sure, not everybody in the Trump administration believes China will increase Iranian imports, said a former U.S. official briefed by current members of the administration.


    Lower demand because of sanctions will make Iranian oil cheap at a time when two of China’s other traditional suppliers, Libya and Venezuela, are struggling. China’s rising needs could allow it to buy more oil from Iran without moving away from other suppliers, such as Saudi Arabia. The world’s No. 2 economy is expected to need an extra 500,000 barrels a day in 2018 and 400,000 barrels a day in 2019, according to the International Energy Agency’s latest monthly report.

    China has made clear it doesn’t support Mr. Trump’s resumption of sanctions. It supported the United Nations’ 2010 sanctions and reduced its imports of Iranian oil by over a quarter at points.

    To get around sanctions, China will likely facilitate purchases through a bank it has historically used for dealing with Iran during previous sanctions, a French official and the senior U.S. official said.

    Banks are wary of financing Iranian trade for fear of hurting their access to the dollar. But Bank of Kunlun Co Ltd, a unit of China National Petroleum Corp, has very limited exposure to the global financial system, so is well placed to continue dealing with Iran.

    The Central Bank of Iran has accounts at Kunlun into which Chinese buyers have paid the equivalent of billions of dollars for oil, people familiar with the matter said. That money is used by the Iranians to buy Chinese goods.


    Kunlun didn’t respond to requests for comment.

    China sees Iran as pivotal in its effort to extend economic influence through its one belt, one road initiative and is investing heavily in infrastructure such as railroads and roads in the country.

    China is already Iran’s biggest trading partner.

    After Mr. Trump announced plans to reinstate sanctions in May, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s first visit was to Beijing.

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