Iran looks beyond strategic strait for oil exports to evade US sanctions

Iran looks beyond strategic strait for oil exports to evade US sanctions
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A photograph released by the Iranian President's Office shows Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (top-R) inaugurating the Jask oil terminal. (AFP)
Iran looks beyond strategic strait for oil exports to evade US sanctions
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Oil tankers pass through the Strait of Hormuz, December 21, 2018. (Reuters)
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Updated 23 July 2021

Iran looks beyond strategic strait for oil exports to evade US sanctions

Iran looks beyond strategic strait for oil exports to evade US sanctions
  • Move aimed at avoiding chokepoint patrolled by US warships amid sanctions
  • Iran’s main oil export terminal is located at the port of Kharg inside the Strait of Hormuz

LONDON: Iran has opened its first oil export terminal that does not require tankers to pass through the Strait of Hormuz, as it looks to expand its oil exports in contravention of US sanctions.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh proclaimed at the launch of the project that it would aid exports, adding that it was “a manifestation of the breakdown of sanctions.” 

The official IRNA news agency had said on Wednesday that the new pipeline and terminal would help Tehran “win back the Iranian oil market from rival countries.”

Iran’s other major oil terminal is located at the Gulf port of Kharg, accessed through the Strait of Hormuz, which is less than 40 km wide at its narrowest point, and where US and Iranian naval vessels have faced off in the past.

Iran has been under punishing US sanctions since former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, heavily impacting Iranian energy exports.

“We had a terminal and if there was a problem, our oil exports would be cut off,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, adding that “today is a great, historic day for the Iranian nation.”

“The oil industry is very important for us, and it is also important for the enemy,” Rouhani said in televised comments.




Iran has also built a 1,000-km pipeline to carry its oil from Goreh, in the southwestern Bushehr province, to the new terminal in the country’s southeast. (Reuters
/File)

Iran has also built a 1,000 km pipeline to carry its oil from Goreh, in the southwestern Bushehr province, to the new terminal in the country’s southeast.

Rouhani estimated the value of the new project at $2 billion. According to Iranian media, it has been underway for about two years.

The US has accused Iran of trying to circumvent the sanctions by exporting oil to countries including China, Venezuela and Syria.

Washington has repeatedly announced the seizure of tankers allegedly carrying Iranian oil.

According to Iranian officials, the Islamic Republic aims to eventually pump “one million barrels per day” through the pipeline.

At the moment, the project allows Iran to export 350,000 barrels per day (bpd), they said.

BACKGROUND

Iran has been under punishing US sanctions since former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, heavily impacting Iranian energy exports.

Iran produced 2.47 million bpd in June, according to latest available figures from OPEC.

“The new terminal has been a strategic imperative for Iran, especially given the heightening of tensions in the Persian Gulf with Saudi Arabia and Israel,” said Herman Wang, an oil analyst at S&P Global Platts. “Bypassing the Strait of Hormuz would provide Iran an export outlet in the event the passage is closed for any reason.

“Until sanctions are lifted, the pipeline and terminal will likely remain well below capacity,” added Wang.

Given Washington’s sanctions, Tehran is discreet about its shipments of crude to the few customers who still dare to buy it.

A Chinese logistics firm has emerged as a central player in the supply of sanctioned oil from Iran and Venezuela, even after it was blacklisted by Washington two years ago for handling Iranian crude, seven sources with knowledge of the deals told Reuters.

The more prominent role of China Concord Petroleum Co. — also known as CCPC — and its expansion into trading with Venezuela highlight the limitations of Washington’s system of restrictions, analysts said.

In the past year, CCPC has acquired at least 14 tankers to transport oil from Iran or Venezuela to China, two of the sources said.

In 2019, Washington added CCPC to a list of entities under sanctions for violating restrictions on handling and transacting Iranian oil. The company has not commented publicly on the sanctions and Reuters could not determine what impact the US blacklisting has had on CCPC.

CCPC supplies half a dozen Chinese teapot refineries with Iranian oil, three China-based sources said. 

Iranian officials familiar with the matter confirmed that CCPC was a central player in Tehran’s oil trade with China.

China received a daily average of 557,000 barrels of Iranian crude between November and March, or roughly 5 percent of total imports by the world’s biggest importer, according to Refinitiv Oil Research, returning to levels last seen before Trump re-imposed sanctions on Iran in 2018.


Egypt to sell minority stake in state payments firm e-finance

Egypt to sell minority stake in state payments firm e-finance
Updated 7 sec ago

Egypt to sell minority stake in state payments firm e-finance

Egypt to sell minority stake in state payments firm e-finance

CAIRO: Egyptian state-controlled payments firm e-finance for Digital and Financial Investments said on Sunday it would offer up to 14.5 percent of its capital in an initial public offering in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Founded in 2005, e-finance said in a statement it is the sole entity authorized to operate the government’s financial network, including processing and settling payment and collection transactions.

The sale is one of several planned for this year.

In May, Egypt sold a 51 percent stake in state-owned Arab Investment Bank to privately owned EFG Hermes, its first sale of a majority bank stake since 2006.

The government announced in 2018 it intended to sell minority stakes in nearly two dozen companies, but those sales have been delayed repeatedly by market downturns and more recently by the coronavirus pandemic.

e-finance said it would float 177.8 million new shares on the stock exchange and 80 million shares owned by current shareholders, to both institutional and retail investors.

Among its shareholders are three state-owned banks: National Investment Bank, with 63.64 percent, and the National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr, each with 9.09 percent, according to e-finance’s 2019 annual report.

Egyptian Banks Co., a payments operator led by the central bank, and a firm called Egyptian Company for Investment Projects each own another 9.09 percent.

e-finance's revenue rose to 1.23 billion Egyptian pounds ($78 million) in 2020 and 904 million pounds in the first half of 2021, a 2018-20 compound annual growth rate of 30 percent, it said.

The sale is subject to market conditions and regulatory approvals, the statement added.


Saudi ministry launches initiative to implement global financial practices in govt entities

Saudi ministry launches initiative to implement global financial practices in govt entities
Updated 5 min 35 sec ago

Saudi ministry launches initiative to implement global financial practices in govt entities

Saudi ministry launches initiative to implement global financial practices in govt entities

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Finance Ministry on Sunday launched an initiative to ensure implementation of the latest global financial practices in the government sector to increase its efficiency in line with the Vision 2030, said a ministry statement.
Prior to the launch of the Financial Control and Support and Development Initiative, the ministry launched a self-assessment pilot program on selected government entities, it said.
The pilot project conducted field studies on the feasibility of self-assessment tools in government entities. The project sought to assess the efficiency of the entities’ internal control systems, level of transparency, and overall control measures.
The program aims to strengthen financial control procedures, improve governance, and switching to automation.


KSA’s grains storage capacity rises by 37% with 2 new silos


KSA’s grains storage capacity rises by 37%  with 2 new silos

Updated 26 min 49 sec ago

KSA’s grains storage capacity rises by 37% with 2 new silos


KSA’s grains storage capacity rises by 37%  with 2 new silos


RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has added two new silos to its existing infrastructure increasing its strategic grain storage capacity by 37 percent, according to an Al-Eqtisadiyah report.

The Saudi Grains Organizations completed the Yanbu Silos Project with a storage capacity of 120,000 tons and it is working on adding a new one with the same capacity in Duba port, the reported said citing SAGO Gov. Ahmed Al-Faris.

Al-Faris said that Saudi strategic storage capacity of grains increased by 900,000 tons to 3.4 millions between 2015 and 2021.  

The SAGO chief said that the Kingdom has reached self-sufficiency in many products such as fresh milk, eggs, dates and white corn etc.

SAGO is one of the leading national institutions tasked with ensuring availability of key food commodities in Saudi Arabia.


Skeptics fail to deter companies from entering crypto fray: Market wrap

Skeptics fail to deter companies from entering crypto fray: Market wrap
Updated 59 min 53 sec ago

Skeptics fail to deter companies from entering crypto fray: Market wrap

Skeptics fail to deter companies from entering crypto fray: Market wrap
  • Paypal Crypto is now available to its UK customers

RIYADH: Paypal has completed the first international expansion of its cryptocurrency offering outside the US. 

Paypal Crypto is now available to its UK customers allowing them to buy, hold and sell four types of cryptocurrencies.

The official account of Paypal UK tweeted: “We are delighted to share that all eligible customers in the UK can now buy, hold and sell cryptocurrencies such as: Bitcoin, ethereum, bitcoin cash and litecoin from their Paypal account.”

Meanwhile, Laos has allowed a series of cryptocurrency mining and trading projects in the country in contravention of the policies of its central bank which issued warnings against cryptocurrencies just a month ago. The move to allow bitcoin mining is part of the government’s efforts to compensate for the losses caused due to a decline in tourism due to the coronavirus disease pandemic. 

Six companies have been authorized to start cryptocurrency trading and mining operations in the country, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Laos could also try to attract some of the miners who were expelled from China.

Skepticism

Sergei Shvetsov, deputy chairman of the board of directors of the Bank of Russia, stated that the bank remains skeptical about the acquisition of cryptocurrencies and will not support increased access to crypto markets for Russian investors, most of whom are not certified, according to media reports.

Russia’s central bank is now working with commercial banks to delay payments made on digital asset exchanges.

The move aims to limit cryptocurrency purchases that Russian investors make based on emotion and are not qualified to do so. The move is likely to affect peer-to-peer and over-the-counter trading platforms.

Speaking at the International Banking Forum, the senior official explained: “When it comes to buying cryptocurrency for investment purposes, we are skeptical about this idea. We believe it’s different from traditional assets, it’s highly risky and has signs of a pyramid scheme.”

Trading

Bitcoin, the leading digital currency, traded lower on Sunday and slipped by 1.57 percent to $47,690.80 at 5:52 p.m. Riyadh time.

Ether, the second most-traded cryptocurrency, was down by 3.46 percent at $3,357.70, according to data from CoinDesk.

 

 


UAE economy minister to visit Britain seeking trade deal

UAE economy minister to visit Britain seeking trade deal
Updated 19 September 2021

UAE economy minister to visit Britain seeking trade deal

UAE economy minister to visit Britain seeking trade deal
  • Trade between the two countries was worth almost $8.1 billion in 2020

DUBAI: The UAE’s economy minister will lead a high-level delegation to Britain this week, the ministry said on Sunday, as the Gulf state seeks to deepen trade ties.

Abdulla bin Touq Al-Marri and the delegation will meet British ministers, officials and representatives from the private sector to discuss recently announced UAE economic policies.

One of those policies includes the UAE seeking to seal what it calls a comprehensive economic agreement covering trade and foreign investment with Britain and seven other countries.

The delegation would also discuss ways to develop economic ties and strengthen cooperation in trade, investment, healthcare and energy, among other sectors, the ministry said.

The UAE last week announced it had expanded an investment partnership with the British government, committing  £10 billion ($13.7 billion) to invest in the UK over five years.

The UAE delegation will also include local government, investment company and private sector representatives, the ministry said.

Britain is the UAE’s third largest non-oil trade partner in Europe, with trade between the two countries worth almost $8.1 billion in 2020, it said.