Iranian exports of fuels and petrochemicals have grown in recent years despite harsh US sanctions, trade sources and officials said, allowing Tehran to rapidly increase sales in Asia and in Europe if Washington lifted sanctions.
The United States imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil and gas sector in 2018 to deprive it of its main source of revenue. in amid a discussion of its nuclear activities.
These steps have hampered crude oil exports, but have not affected sales of fuels and petrochemicals, which are difficult to track. Iranian oil can be identified by its grade and other characteristics, and large oil tankers can be tracked via satellite.
Data from the oil ministry and central bank showed that Iran exported around $ 20 billion in petrochemicals and petroleum products in 2020, double the value of its crude oil exports. The government said in April that these exports were its main source of revenue.
“The world is vast and the methods of evading sanctions are endless,” Hamid Hosseini, a board member of the Iranian Association of Oil, Gas and Oil Exporters in Tehran, told Reuters.
He pointed out that Iran’s competitive pricing and location close to major shipping routes have made its products in high demand.
There are also far more buyers of refined products than importers who have refineries equipped to process Iranian crude.
Also, Iran exports some fuel by truck to neighboring countries in small deals that are difficult for the US Treasury to detect.
Tehran is in talks since April to revive its nuclear deal with six world powers, after the US withdrew from it under former President Donald Trump in 2018. Iran says it will not restrict its nuclear activities in under the deal unless Washington removes the sanctions.
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