The US is finishing off Iran’s economy. Russia is next

China has completely stopped the purchase of Iranian oil once in early May, the grace period has expired, which the United States provided its exporters. This was written by the American edition of The Wall Street Journal, citing sources in the oil industry of Iran.

And earlier Ambassador of India to the United States, Harsh Vardhan shringla told reporters that his country may have completely stopped importing crude oil from the Islamic Republic. In New Delhi, he said, “took into account the concerns of our administration” and stopped the import of Iranian oil, although in April bought 1 million tons. The decision to stop the supply of “expensive” India, has had to look for alternative sources of energy.

Thus, oil exports from Iran are slowly but surely reaching zero. Direct purchases of “black gold” there also stopped Turkey, South Korea, and Japan. Meanwhile, according to the member of the Economic Committee of the Iranian Parliament Rahim Zare, these three countries, as well as China, India, Taiwan, Greece, and Italy, collectively purchased, for example, 1.6 million barrels of oil daily in March this year.

According to WSJ, in mid-may from the oil terminal on the island of hard in Iran loaded a tanker belonging to China. And this in Tehran was mistakenly perceived as the resumption of purchases of crude oil by Beijing. However, the ship subsequently designated Indonesia as its destination. And at the moment remains off the coast of Iran in the Gulf of Oman.

Entrepreneurs from the Islamic Republic note that Iranian oil is no longer bought even by Chinese mini-refineries — small private companies that at least to some extent could replace state oil and gas companies. At the same time, when past sanctions were imposed against Iran, canceled after the “nuclear deal”, China and India, on the contrary — actively bought Iranian oil. Now the reason for this pliability of China in relation to us sanctions, experts call the protracted negotiations with Washington on the conclusion of a comprehensive trade agreement. The dialogue is stalling, and the trade war is gradually gaining momentum. Us administration has already decided to increase duties to 25% on Chinese goods totaling up to $ 200 billion. This was followed by a ban on cooperation with the Chinese Corporation Huawei. Against this background, Beijing does not want to further irritate the United States, in violation of their sanctions.

“China has enough problems with the United States. They do not want to give them another reason,” the Wall Street Journal quotes a source in the Iranian oil industry.

However, Tehran hopes that sales to China can still be restored. A private Iranian trader, who last supplied Iranian oil to China two months ago, said he was negotiating the sale of up to two million barrels to a Chinese mini-refinery. And the representative of the Ministry of Commerce of China Gao Feng said that China’s trade and economic cooperation with Iran, including in the energy sector, is carried out within the framework of international law and is absolutely legal.

But it is one thing to declare, and another to argue with the principle of extraterritoriality, which is processed by the United States. Experts do not exclude that as an element of pressure on Washington, China can really resume the export of oil from Iran, albeit temporarily. However, the precedent itself is of serious concern. It turns out that the US can actually single-handedly ban oil exports from Iran to the rest of the world. And even China has to put up with it.

The same European Union loudly declared that isn’t going to support the American sanctions and will create mechanisms of their bypass. But in fact, it was all just words. And European companies did not dare to buy oil from the disgraced country.

The question arises: can the US in the future use the tested technology against Russia? After all, Washington has long threatened to impose sanctions against Nord stream 2 or other gas and oil projects in Russia. What if it comes to a direct ban on our exports? The leading analyst of the national energy security Fund, expert of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation Igor Yushkov believes that it is much more difficult for the US to ban the export of Russian oil and gas than in the case of Iran. However, Americans are already hitting our oil industry in another way.

— The point is that Iran will zero its exports. At least not officially. Some supplies under the gray schemes are possible, as it was during the EU sanctions against Iran. Then the tankers went out to sea, loaded Board to Board. And thus the traces of the origin of oil, which then fell into foreign markets, were confused.

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But now the situation is more difficult for Iran. If previously, the EU prohibited the purchase of oil from that country on its territory, the United States is now de facto prohibited from buying Iranian oil to everyone. Americans are trying to physically track tankers from Iranian ports, so even the “gray scheme” is difficult to implement. The US wants to catch by the hand not only Tehran but also, more importantly, buyers of raw materials. Their Americans in case of detection will try to bring to justice. To show that punishment is inevitable.

“SP”: — That is, China also decided not to enter into confrontation with the US and abandon Iranian oil?

— It is possible that China will refuse or resume purchases of Iranian oil. To get on the Americans ‘ nerves. And to show that they carry out sanctions only if they want to. It is important for China to use the Iranian card in negotiations with the United States on a large trade agreement.

It is clear that the Americans impose sanctions against Iran, not least in order to reduce the sources of energy supplies to China. Beijing is now showing that if it agrees with Washington on a large trade agreement, it will adhere to sanctions against Iran. And then they really work.

If the Americans continue to press Beijing further, then the Chinese will give up on all these restrictions. And they will continue to buy Iranian oil.

So I do not exclude that China can return to the purchase of Iranian oil if it deems it necessary.

SP: what about the workarounds for sanctions? Something similar was said, for example, in the EU.

— There was a lot of talk about it. Mogherini personally said that the EU will create a tool to bypass us sanctions. But it is one thing to offer such a mechanism to business. It is quite another to force them to use it.

So far, there is no activity on this front. No major European company has agreed to buy Iranian oil. And small people do not need this mechanism. It is easier for them to participate in the “gray schemes”.

“SP”: — Why does no one want to participate in the workaround?

— Yes, because if you sign up to participate, it will automatically mean a violation of us sanctions. And against you will introduce secondary restrictive measures. European companies don’t want that.

“SP”: — what can the USA do if China continues to buy oil from Iran? Will impose sanctions against China’s national oil and gas Corporation CNPC?

— CNPC is too big a Corporation. The imposition of sanctions against it by the United States will mean a General aggravation of the conflict. This is a political issue.

Automatically impose sanctions against CNPC Americans can not because the Chinese are clearly a mirror to answer. As it was with the duties and the arrest of the Deputy head of the company Huawei.

I think China will continue to demonstratively bu
But before China to the displeasure of the United States bought Iranian oil? What changed?

— The fact of the matter is that while Iranian oil has stopped buying European companies. Therefore, commodity flows have simply changed direction. And went to China and India.

Moreover, India bought Iranian oil not only for its own consumption. They have a lot of refineries. They processed raw materials and sold petroleum products to the world market. A number of Asian States also bought Iranian oil.

Now the Americans have made sanctions so as to completely reset exports from Iran. This is a fundamentally different nature of sanctions.

“SP”: — That is, America said — and all listened?

— De facto, few people can oppose the US on the issue of Iranian sanctions. Russia does not need additional problems. We had an oil-for-food program. When we bought Iranian oil and paid for it with our goods. But there is a suspicion that all this program existed only on paper.

Yes, we are allies with Iran in the framework of the anti-terrorist operation in Syria. But there the active phase of the conflict is already over. And we are not so dependent on cooperation with Iran.

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But Tehran and I remain serious competitors in the energy market. Therefore, it is not clear: why should we help Iran to the detriment of ourselves? Just because we faced a common problem in the form of sanctions?

“SP”: — Well, what if in the future the US imposes similar sanctions, for example, on our exports to China?

— It is not clear what the Americans are able to impose sanctions. If the gas pipeline “Power of Siberia”, it will not stop its construction. Since it is already completed. China will not give up our gas either. Moreover, a long-term contract has already been signed.

If the US imposes sanctions on Gazprom itself, this will seriously affect the European market. And it will be very dangerous for the Europeans themselves.

It is still unclear whether the Americans will impose sanctions against Nord stream 2? Europeans are actively lobbying for their interests. And we are determined to complete this gas pipeline. How it will be used later is a separate issue. But it is very important for Europeans to build it. It seems to me that everything will be done very carefully around the Russian gas industry in terms of sanctions. Until now, Gazprom has no limitations — it can lend to, it is possible to buy gas. So far, only NOVATEK has suffered from sanctions. And even then we see that he was so “affected” that he still freely implements his projects. Including gas liquefaction. And there are no bans on the purchase of its products.

In the oil industry, the tactics of the Americans are reduced to the fact that they want to reduce Russia’s ability to develop new fields. They have already imposed sanctions against a number of projects, against hard-to-recover oil, in particular, the Bazhenov Suite. These are the areas where we expected to increase production.

They block our ability to increase production and even maintain it at current levels, assuming that we will fall further. Then the export will collapse by itself.

The head Of the school of Oriental studies at HSE Alexei Maslov believes that the US will not be able to repeat the Iranian scenario with Russia.

— The refusal to supply Iranian oil to China was discussed a month ago. Even before he turned around the situation with Huawei. This was probably part of the Chinese plan to implement the standards that were required in the negotiations with the United States.

Now China has decided to further reduce oil purchases from Iran. Because he wants to comply with all the rules put forward by the United States.

But, most likely, in this story, there is another side. Perhaps China is not satisfied with the condition of Iranian oil supplies. In addition to buying oil, Beijing wanted to come to the Iranian business, build oil loading and refining facilities and expand its presence in the oil sector of Iran itself. But Tehran did not go for it, no serious agreements were concluded. That is why China has cooled to this idea and gradually curtails purchases.

SP: can the US ban China from exporting oil and gas from Russia?

— First, energy supplies from Russia are not under sanctions. Secondly, China has very different relations with Russia. This is a strategic partnership, and oil is part of it.

We must understand that Beijing needs Russian oil. Russia is not the main “holder of the oil card”. Many supplies come from Africa, the Persian Gulf, and Kazakhstan. But at the same time, China is unlikely to want to lose Russian oil. So I don’t think the US will do it.

“SP”: — Can China resume oil exports from Iran?

— Yes, Beijing can do it. But then it becomes clear that China is beginning to act sharply against the United States. So far, the Chinese leadership wants to reduce this confrontation exclusively to a trade war and not to reach the ideological level of the dispute. If China will carry out such actions at the peak of the United States, it means that he joined the race of ideologies. Then, winning the United States, China will largely lose its image in relation to other countries.y Iranian oil from time to time. And it will be perceived as a political signal. But none of this is to punish CNPC will not.