Iran using 'ghost tankers' to keep oil money coming in spite of US sanctions
Iran is using a fleet of illegal “ghost tankers” to export oil in defiance of punitive trade sanctions introduced by Donald Trump, Daily Express writes in an article "Iran using 'GHOST TANKERS' to keep oil money coming in spite of US sanctions". Shipping analysts are tracking at least seven vessels which transporting oil from the country which has seen exports have dropped by at least 500,000 since May when Mr Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal and announced the imposition of sanctions.
The fear of further international measures and a drop in oil revenues - Tehran’s main source of foreign currency - has already led to a 70 percent fall in the value of the national currency, the rial, this year.
South Korea and France are among countries that have stopped Iranian imports completely and China and India — the biggest buyers of Iranian crude — are taking in fewer barrels.
According to FGE, a consultancy, some 10m-15m barrels of Iranian oil are stored on offshore vessels, without buyers.
Washington remains unrepentant and this week a senior White House official said the US was helping allies find alternatives to Iranian oil.
Mr Trump has already asked Saudi Arabia to pump more oil to make up for any Iranian shortfall on the world market and along with Iraq, it has increased production in recent months and pounced on Iranian customers.
Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh has criticised Opec rivals that are ramping up production.
He said: “Anyone who says they will compensate for the shortfall in the market is speaking against Iran. They should come out and say, ‘The US has phoned and told me to increase output’.”
In Tehran, analysts do not expect the country’s oil exports to dry up completely but acknowledged a sharp decline will have an immediate impact on the economy.
The relatively moderate government of Hassan Rouhani relies on petrodollars to pay civil servants’ salaries and cover cash handouts to compensate Iranians for rising energy prices.
And with anti-regime sentiment will continued to grow as patience runs thin when the money run out.
Iran cannot easily abandon the lucrative export business that generates much needed government revenues and there is growing evidence of the country reverting to an old playbook of selling in secret.
Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData, which is tracking the vessels filled with Iranian oil, said: “We saw this happen in years past when Iran’s economy was under pressure from sanctions. “We are now seeing the same thing again, with Tehran being surreptitious with its crude flows.”