Iran has vowed to thwart US efforts to block its oil exports by allowing private companies to export crude oil.
Eshaq Jahangiri, Iran’s first vice president, also warned rival OPEC producer Saudi Arabia that it would never take Tehran’s “place” on the international oil market.
“We will surely do something to thwart the US rallying cry that Iranian oil [exports] must be stemmed,” Jahangiri said in a speech during an economic event broadcast on state television.
“The [Iranian] government has a plan … and God willing we are certain that we will be able to sell as much oil as we want,” Jahangiri added.
Iran is looking at ways to keep exporting oil after US President Donald Trump’s administration threatened to impose sanctions on Iran’s business partners if they do not cut Iranian oil imports to “zero” by November 4, in an attempt to further isolate Tehran politically and economically.
India, the biggest buyer of Iranian oil after China, already asked refiners on Thursday to prepare for a “drastic reduction or zero” of Iranian oil imports in order to protect its exposure to the US financial system.
“Iranian crude oil will be offered on the bourse and the private sector can export it in a transparent way,” Jahangiri said at the event.
“We want to defeat America’s efforts … to stop Iran’s oil exports.
“Oil is already being offered on the bourse, about 60,000 barrels per day, but that has been only for exports of oil products,” Jahangiri said.
Iran has an oil and petrochemicals bourse as part of its mercantile exchange.
Referring to reports that Saudi Arabia may increase its oil exports to replace Iranian oil in world markets, Jahangiri said: “Anyone trying to take away Iran’s oil market [share] would be committing great treachery against Iran and will one day pay for it.”
Tightening the noose
The US-led sanctions are aimed at pressuring Iran to negotiate a follow-up agreement to halt its nuclear programme, following Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal agreed between Iran and six major powers.
On Tuesday a senior State Department official described tightening the noose on Tehran as “one of our top national security priorities”.
European countries have been attempting to negotiate exemptions for their firms, but the official confirmed that Trump intends to stick to his deadline.
“We’re not granting waivers,” the official said.
Jahangiri’s remarks come a day after Trump said that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman had agreed to his request to ramp up oil production, “maybe up to 2,000,000 barrels” to offset anticipated losses in production by Iran and Venezuela.
Jahangiri said it was not that “simple”.
“They’re begging the Saudis to raise their output so that if Iran’s quota decreases nothing will happen to the markets,” said Jahangiri.
“In this battle, any country that tries to take Iran’s place on the oil market will be guilty of treason against Iran… and surely one day it will pay the price of this treason,” he said.
Iran possesses the second-largest gas reserves on the planet after Russia and the fourth-largest oil supplies, while Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest oil exporter.