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Iranian Economy Gets A Harder Hit by U.S., Trade Figures Shrink With Europe’s Biggest Economy

In other setbacks to Iran, its trade with Germany, Europe’s largest economy, slumped in the first two months of this year, according to the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

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oil tank
An employee walks past oil tanks at a Sinopec refinery in Wuhan, Hubei province April 25, 2012. China’s top state-owned refiners have decided not to order any oil for loading at Iranian ports this month, according to Reuters. Pixabay

U.S. sanctions are biting harder into the Iranian economy, with new signs that Iran’s key oil exports are faltering, while its trade figures with Europe’s biggest economy and with the United States are shrinking.

U.S. news service Bloomberg said it has compiled tanker tracking data showing that no oil tankers had been seen leaving Iran’s oil terminals for foreign ports in the first nine days of May. Crude oil is Iran’s main revenue source.

Washington tightened its unilateral sanctions on Iranian oil exports May 2, ending waivers that it granted to several countries to keep importing crude from Iran and requiring them to reduce imports to zero. The U.S. sanctions are aimed at pressuring Iran to change its perceived malign behaviors.

Bloomberg said the tracking data also revealed that four Iranian tankers were anchored off the coast of China as of May 9, with a fifth tanker on its way to the Chinese coast. It said most of the rest of Iran’s tanker fleet either was returning to the Persian Gulf after discharging cargoes or had been observed in or near the region in the previous two days. It said 10 Iranian tankers had not sent tracking signals for at least 16 days, keeping their transponders turned off in an apparent effort to hide their movements.

In a report published Friday, Reuters said the four Iranian tankers off the Chinese coast and the fifth on its way to China had loaded Iranian crude in April, before China’s U.S. waiver to import the oil expired. It said two of the tankers have discharged their oil to Chinese clients, while two others were waiting to do so at the Chinese ports of Ningbo and Zhoushan.

But in a further blow to Iran’s oil industry, Reuters quoted “three people with knowledge of the matter” as saying China’s top state-owned refiners China Petrochemical Corp (Sinopec) and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) have decided not to order any oil for loading at Iranian ports this month. Reuters cited the sources as saying the Chinese refiners were worried that making such orders would expose them to U.S. sanctions that could block their access to the U.S. financial system.

Iran has vowed to keep exporting oil in defiance of U.S. sanctions.

Syria
There was no immediate reaction by the Trump administration to the undeclared Iranian oil delivery to Syria. Pixabay

In recent days, Western media said it appears that Tehran did find one oil customer this month, with an Iranian tanker delivering crude to Syria for the first time this year. Iran had stopped oil shipments to Syria, a key regional ally, late last year after suspending a credit line to Damascus because of impending U.S. sanctions against Tehran. The halt in Iranian oil deliveries to Syria, which also is under U.S. sanctions, led to fuel shortages during the Syrian winter.

Reuters cited a source familiar with Iranian oil shipments as saying the Iranian tanker arrived in Syria last week. U.S. network CNBC quoted firms that track maritime shipments as saying Iran made the delivery in the first week of May.

In a tweet posted Friday, TankerTrackers.com co-founder Samir Madani said the Iranian oil arrived May 5 aboard a Suezmax tanker previously known as True Ocean. Suezmax is a naval term for the largest ship capable of transiting the Suez Canal.

There was no immediate reaction by the Trump administration to the undeclared Iranian oil delivery to Syria.

In other setbacks to Iran, its trade with Germany, Europe’s largest economy, slumped in the first two months of this year, according to the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

In Friday reports, newspapers belonging to Germany’s Funke Media Group cited the association as saying German exports to Iran fell 52.6% year-on-year to $261 million in January and February, while German imports from Iran dropped 42.2% to $46 million in the same period.

The Funke newspapers quoted the head of the German-Iranian chamber of commerce, Dagmar von Bohnstein, as saying: “The market in Iran is extremely difficult because of the U.S. sanctions and the country’s economic conditions.” Iran has seen more than a year of small-scale nationwide protests by workers angry at what they see as corruption and mismanagement by its ruling Islamist clerics.

The U.S. Census Bureau also posted trade data Thursday, showing U.S. exports to Iran fell 54.7% in the first quarter of 2019 versus the same period last year, to $14.6 million. It said U.S. first-quarter imports from Iran dropped to just half-a-million dollars, compared to $13.3 million in the year-earlier period.

U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook speaks to VOA Persian at the State Department in Washington, May 9, 2019.
U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook speaks to VOA Persian at the State Department in Washington, May 9, 2019. VOA

In a Thursday interview with VOA Persian at the State Department, U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said Iran’s economic troubles will get worse.

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“That is the price this regime is going to pay for behaving like an outlaw regime,” Hook said. “We are denying Iran the ability to fund its proxies. So we are very happy with this steady state of pressure that we hope to keep in place for as long as is necessary.” (VOA)

Next Story

Air Pollution From Oil and Gas Industries Visible From Space: Study

Air pollution from oil, gas production sites visible from space

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Oil gas industry
Researchers have seen a significant increase in the release of the lung-irritating air pollutant nitrogen dioxide and a more-than-doubling of the amount of gas flared into the atmosphere. Pixabay

Oil and gas production has doubled in some parts of the United States in the last two years, as researchers have seen a significant increase in the release of the lung-irritating air pollutant nitrogen dioxide and a more-than-doubling of the amount of gas flared into the atmosphere.

“We see the industry’s growing impact from space, we really are at the point where we can use satellite data to give feedback to companies and regulators, and see if they are successful in regulating emissions,” said study lead author Barbara Dix from University of Colorado Boulder in the US.

For the study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers set out to see if a suite of satellite-based instruments could help scientists understand more about nitrogen oxides pollution (including nitrogen dioxide) coming from engines in US oil and gas fields.

Combustion engines produce nitrogen oxides, which is a respiratory irritant and can lead to the formation of other types of harmful air pollutants, such as ground-level ozone, the research said.

Oil gas industry
On oil and gas drilling and production sites, there may be several small and large combustion engines, drilling, compressing gas, separating liquids and gases, and moving gas and oil through pipes and storage containers. Pixabay

According to the researchers, on oil and gas drilling and production sites, there may be several small and large combustion engines, drilling, compressing gas, separating liquids and gases, and moving gas and oil through pipes and storage containers.

The emissions of those engines are not controlled.

“Conventional ‘inventories’ meant to account for nitrogen oxides pollution from oil and gas sites are often very uncertain, underestimating or overestimating the pollutants,” said study co-author Joost de Gouw.

“And there are few sustained measurements of nitrogen oxides in many of the rural areas where oil and gas development often takes place,” Dix said.

So the research team turned to nitrogen dioxide data from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on board a NASA satellite and the Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (TropOMI) on a European Space Agency satellite.

They also looked at gas flaring data from an instrument on the NOAA/NASA Suomi satellite system.

Between 2007 and 2019, across much of the US, nitrogen dioxide pollution levels dropped because of cleaner cars and power plants, the team found, confirming findings reported previously.

Also Read- Study Says, World’s Oceans Were Warmest in 2019

The clean air trend in satellite data was most obvious in urban areas of California, Washington and Oregon and in the eastern half of the continental US.

However, several areas stuck out with increased emissions of nitrogen dioxide: The Permian, Bakken and Eagle Ford oil and gas basins, in Texas and New Mexico, North Dakota, and Texas, respectively, the study said. (IANS)