While saying no decision has been made yet, State Department
Representative for Iran Brian Hook suggests that the US is poised to
increase its crackdown on oil exports by both Iran and Venezuela, on the
grounds that the world can take it.
Hook claimed the world oil market is well-supplied, with an extra 400,000 barrels of oil for 2019 above consumption. He said this would allow the US to go further with its goal of driving Iran’s exports to zero.
Which is bad math, because Iran is exporting 1.25 million barrels per day as of February. Trying to force that to zero, unattainable at any rate, would be far more than the oil market could sustain, and would damage the global economy.
Concerns about the lack of supply were part of the US giving waivers to several countries to keep buying Iranian oil, but those expire in May, and Hook’s comments suggest the US wants to renew less of them, to further damage Iran.
This is always going to be contingent, of course, on these nations going along with US demands. China has already openly said they’ll keep buying oil with or without US permission, and India is also seen likely to keep doing so simply out of necessity. Since India also buys a lot of oil from Venezuela, the US will struggle to convince India that it can do without much of its oil imports unless a new supplier emerges from thin air.
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