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Iran Oil Minister Blames Domestic Critics For Low Exports, Ultimately Sanction

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namadar Zanganeh talks with Iranian journalist after signing an oil field agreement in Tehran, March 14, 2018

Iran’s oil minister criticized domestic opposition to new oil contracts as the reason why oil exports have remained relatively low, making Iran vulnerable to sanctions.

Bijan Zanganeh told parliament’s news website June 29, “If they had not caused delays in the work of the oil ministry and five other contracts similar to the one with Total had been concluded, the country would be in a better situation now”.

Zanganeh argued that the U.S. could not sanction Russian energy exports because they were too big to cut out of the world market. If Iran’s oil exports had reached 4 million barrels a day, it would have been much harder for the U.S. to sanction them because that could destabilize world supplies and prices.

In 2017, French oil giant Total concluded a deal with Iran to take the lead in developing the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf, but the project has not progressed much due to uncertainty created by possible U.S. sanctions.

Zanganeh also expressed doubt if Total would be exempted from impending U.S. sanctions.

Last July, as the government of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani was concluding its agreement with Total, his hardline opponents launched a campaign to stop the deal and other potential oil and gas agreements.

In May, President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. is withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Iran; triggering the re-imposition of sanctions against Iran. Washington is now working hard to stop other countries from purchasing Iranian oil.

Currently, Iran exports around 2.7 million barrels a day but some experts believe that when U.S. sanctions go into effect in November, this number could tumble below one million barrels.