U.S. reconsiders 'zero tolerance' policy on Iran oil imports

U.S. reconsiders 'zero tolerance' policy on Iran oil imports

Two domestic companies have placed orders to buy Iranian oil in November, oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Monday, adding that the government does not yet know if it will be granted a waiver from United States sanctions on Iran.

White House officials had said over the summer they would push to bring Iranian crude exports "down to zero" and would be unlikely to grant any waiver exemptions, including to allies such as India and South Korea, two of Iran's largest oil customers. According to CNBC, Pradhan said India may use rupees rather than dollars to buy the oil, in an attempt to skirt the sanctions.

Crude oil futures slipped by 1.44 percent to Rs 5,466 per barrel Monday, as traders cut exposure at the existing levels amid a weak trend in the Asian trade. It hit a four-year high of $86.74 last week.

India, however, wants to keep importing oil from Iran, because Tehran offers discounts and incentives for them at a time when the Indian government is struggling with higher oil prices and a weakening local currency.

In May, Trump pulled the USA out of the Iran nuclear deal despite objection from the other signatories, the UK, Russia, Germany, China, and France, re-imposing sanctions lifted under the deal.

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But Iran, OPEC's third-largest producer, has repeatedly said that its oil exports can not be reduced to zero because of high demand levels in the market and has blamed Trump for an oil price rally caused by imposing sanctions on Tehran.

"Chatter that Saudi Arabia has replaced all of Iran's lost oil" is weighing on prices, said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore.

Iran has warned that if it can not sell its oil due to US pressure, then no other regional country will be allowed to do so either, threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz.

"This is one of the single biggest supportive factors for crude", said analysts at JBC Energy of the U.S.re-imposition of Iran sanctions. From May through early August Brent crude oil prices fell from $80 to $70 as economic growth concerns overruled fears that the market was inadequately supplied. "Iran's oil can not be replaced by Saudi Arabia".

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