With its official oil exports sharply restricted amid US sanctions, Iran’s regime is again offering supplies to private buyers.
Tehran’s energy exchange announced Saturday that two million barrels of oil will be offered for bidding on June 11. The barrels will be offered at $67.32 each.
At the current Brent global price of $63.29, it is unlikely private buyers would see any benefit from Tuesday’s sale. However, as US and Iran threatened military confrontation, the Brent price reached almost $75 per barrel on April 23.
Iran’s official exports have fallen to just over 1 million barrels per day, compared to 2.5 million bpd in April 2018. Analysts say Tehran could be moving up to 400,000 bpd on the black market, using tankers that have turned off transponders to avoid tracking.
During US and international sanctions from 2010 to 2016, Iran moved oil through middlemen to foreign buyers. However, billions of dollars were embezzled, with accusations that high-level officials were involved. One tycoon, Babak Zanjani, has been convicted of keeping about $3 billion and sentenced to death.
The regime announced last October that it would begin sales to private buyers on the Tehran Bourse. Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said in December that the buyers would have “no problem” selling on international markets.
The semi-official Iranian Students News Agency reported 1.85 million barrels of oil was sold since then — less than one day’s export volume last spring. Other media have reported that the actual amount is less than 50,000 barrels.
Last month the US restricted possibilities further by ending sanction waivers for Iran’s top customers, including China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey.