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Iran Minister Optimistic About More Oil Exports, While U.S. Talks Of More Sanctions

Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh listens to journalists at the beginning of an OPEC meeting in Vienna, Austria, July 1, 2019

While U.S. warned Sunday of more sanctions hitting Iran, the country’s oil minister expressed hope crude exports will increase without offering any details.

The United States has toughened its oil sanctions on Iran since May 2, aiming for “zero” exports. Various industry reports speak of less than 500,000 barrels of oil exported daily. Prior to the imposition of U.S. sanctions Iran was selling more than two million barrels a day.

Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, Iran’s oil minister speaking in a government TV program Sunday, hours after Iran announced it will raise the degree of its uranium enrichment, expressed optimism about more oil sales.

Recently, there have been reports of Iran having some limited success to ship oil and liquid gas to China, India and Turkey.

Zanganeh has been under the pressure of domestic hardliners, who accuse his ministry of corruption. It is not clear if any top official is behind the campaign, but hardliners usually take their cue from the Supreme Leader or the Revolutionary Guards.

In his remarks Zanganeh alluded to the pressures exerted on him and said, “If friends give us a chance, we can effectively deal with enemies”.

Zanganeh also pointed to Iran’s apparent tactic in trying to sell more oil. “Price is not important so much”, he said, quantity of sales is important.

Oil exporting countries compete fiercely for market share and the longer Iranian oil stays off the market, the harder it will be to regain customers.

The oil minister avoided questions about an Iranian tanker impounded at Gibraltar since July 4, saying that the foreign ministry is dealing with the issue and is in contact with the United Kingdom.