LATEST: Political Prisoner Watch: Ahvazi Blogger Sentenced
After two days featuring the regime’s all-is-well propaganda on oil production and exports, we turn to the other side of the story this morning.
Arab Petroleum Investments (Apicorp) said on Friday that, amid declining exports and US-led sanctions, Iran needs an oil price of $144 per barrel to balance its Government budget this year.
The benchmark Brent crude price, used for more than half the world’s oil, has averaged about $108 this year.
A 25% shortfall would leave the Islamic Republic with a deficit of more than $70 billion on its 2013/14 Government budget, belatedly passed in May.
Omid Roshan Zamir, a blogger in Ahvaz, has been sentenced to 17 months in prison.
Parliament Committee: Elements of Revolutionary Guards & Politicians in February Attack on Speaker of Parliament Larijani
Reader Mansur Arshama bring news of an enquiry into a prominent attack on Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani in February, during his speech in Qom on the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution:
The Majlis Research Commission has published a report saying that [elements of] IRGC [Revolutionary Guards] Intelligence, the Qom provincial government, and members of the Imam Khomeini Institute were behind the attacks on Larijani’s speech.
The report speaks of an orchestrated attack during which shoes and praying stones were thrown at Larijani, and gives acronyms of the ringleaders. Managers of the hardliner weekly Partou were involved as well.
The challenge to Larijani came days after President Ahmadinejad used a speech on the floor of Parliament to accuse the Speaker and his family of corruption.
Journalist Fariba Pojouh, detained on July 10 in a raid on her home, has been released from prison on bail.
Despite dire predictions (see our opening introduction) of the effects of declining exports and increasing sanctions on Iran’s oil sales, Fars News — close to the Revolutionary Guards — is relentlessly upbeat on Saturday with four stories about Tehran’s plans to develop the country’s oil production.
Fars gushes about plans to develop the Hengam Oil Field and Qeshm Island:
Hengam Oil Field Output to Hit 45,000b/d
Iran Starts Development Plan to Increase Oil Production in Hengam
Iran Planning to Change Qeshm Island into Energy Hub
Fars does not mention how or to whom it plans to sell any extra oil it produces.
Fars also gives more — misleading — detail about a story it ran earlier this week about oil exports to India. Fars headlines:
Iran Proposes Sovereign Guarantee for Crude Oil Shipments to India
According to Fars, Iran has offered an Indian oil company, Essar Oil Ltd, the guarantee as a solution for the lack of insurance cover on oil shipments, a result of sanctions. The main problem with that, however, is that if something should happen to a shipment, Iran would have to reach into its foreign reserves to compensate the Indian company. What Fars also does not mention is that Essar is currently the only Indian company purchasing Iranian oil and that Essar is paying in rupees, which is limited in convertibility.