With the US anti-Iran sanctions still in place, Tehran is using numerous tactics which help Iranian tankers deliver oil to its trading partners, Bloomberg reported, citing experts.
They claimed that many such vessels have “gone dark”, switching off transponders to avoid detection.
Devin Geoghegan, global director of petroleum intelligence at Genscape Inc. in Denver, Colorado, argued that “Iran is a black box, but it’s also not a black box” because there are some ways to detect Tehran’s secretive activity.
“Iran is simply doing a better job of putting their oil into other people’s hands - or their own storage tin-cans - than anybody has expected,” Geoghegan claimed.
Daniel Gerber, chief executive officer of Geneva-based tanker-tracking firm Petro-Logistics SA, insisted that “Iran is as secretive now as any time over the past 40 years”.
Samah Ahmed of the Paris-based think tank Kpler, for his part, told Bloomberg that Iran is resorting to a range of techniques, including “several ship-to-ship transfers off-radar,” in order to transport oil in the face of the US sanctions.
In this context, Kpler expert Homayoun Falakshahi, in turn, insisted that “the [US] goal of bringing Iran’s exports down to zero was never attained”.
At the same time, he claimed that “the Trump administration has been obviously very successful in bringing maximum pressure” on the Islamic Republic.
Bloomberg quoted Kpler as saying that despite the US sanctions, Iran has succeeded in maintaining “limited flows to China, its biggest customer, and some to Turkey and Syria”.
Iran Calls on China and Other Allies to Buy More Oil
The remarks come after Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri expressed hope that its leading economic partner China and other Iranian allies will “be more active in buying Iranian oil”.
The statement came as Iranian Minister of Oil Bijan Namdar Zanganeh touted Tehran’s incessant efforts to find ways to export its crude in the face of US sanctions.
In a separate development, Reuters cited research from three firms tracking tanker movement as saying that China continued imports of Iranian crude oil in July, two months after the expiry of US sanctions waivers.
According to the data, tankers unloaded between 4.4 million and 11 million barrels of crude oil in China in July, with some of the oil believed to have gone to China’s strategic oil reserves.
US Slaps Economic Sanctions on Iran
The developments come against the backdrop of aggravating US-Iranian ties, which hit a new low after US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew his country from the 2015 Iran deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in May 2018.
Washington subsequently subject almost all major economic sectors of Iran to sanctions, vowing to drive all Iranian oil exports to zero and demanding that other countries stop buying it from Iran. The White House also announced the decision not to reissue waivers on Iranian oil after their expiry.