Iranian oil customers keep at bay

Dec. 3, 2012 at 8:55 AM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Seven countries given exemptions from U.S. sanctions targeting Iran's energy sector have stayed committed to alternatives, U.S. officials said.

India, Turkey, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Malaysia and South Africa were given exemptions last summer from U.S. sanctions targeting the Iranian oil sector because of reductions in crude oil imports from the Islamic republic.

Those waivers expire Saturday. Two U.S. officials confirmed to Bloomberg News that the countries have shown a continued commitment to the move away from Iranian oil. The officials were speaking on background because a final decision rests with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The 20 nations that import crude oil from Iran have all backed from Tehran as sanctions pressure increased. The International Energy Agency said Iranian oil exports, however, increased from a year low of 1 million barrels per day in July to 1.3 million bpd in October.

Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said Iran has the capacity to produce as much as 4 million barrels of oil and 2.1 trillion cubic feet of gas per day.

Iran's currency collapsed this year in part because of sanctions pressure. The currency devaluation came as crude oil prices slide in part because of global economic concerns.

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