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EXCLUSIVE - Tanker Tracking Firm Says Iran Shipping Oil To China

File photo - An oil tanker is seen off the port of Bandar Abbas, southern Iran.
File photo - An oil tanker is seen off the port of Bandar Abbas, southern Iran.

Iranian Minister of Oil, Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, says Tehran is striving day and night to sell its crude oil, despite U.S. sanctions.

In a Bloomberg Television interview in Vienna, on Tuesday, July 2, Namdar Zanganeh reiterated that the Islamic Republic is working "day and night" to find ways to export its crude.

President Donald Trump's administration has repeatedly insisted that it was trying to push Iran's oil exports to "zero."

Retaliating, Iranian officials have dismissed such moves as "psychological warfare," saying Tehran has its own ways to sidestep American sanctions and sell its oil.

Meanwhile, Kpler, a firm that tracks the movement of oil tankers, told Radio Farda that Iran delivered its second oil consignment to China this week.

In an exclusive interview with Radio Farda Kpler disclosed that Iran managed to transfer 545,000 barrels of crude to different oil tankers every day in June, which was 469,000 barrels less than the previous month.

Furthermore, Kpler told Radio Farda that Iran merely sold 34,000 barrels of Iranian oil to the West, which is expected to arrive in Turkey within two days.

"The rest of the Iranian oil loaded on tankers last month is either pinned down in the Iranian territorial waters or in Fujairah port, United Arab Emirates, in the Persian Gulf," Kpler said.

Moreover, according to Kpler, "Iran delivered its second oil consignment of two million barrels to the Chinese company, Sinopec, last Monday, in China ports. An earlier similar consignment was also delivered recently to the Chinese company, CNPC. The two consignments were freighted to China, about two months ago."

Since the Trump administration has shown little sign of easing the sanctions that have already slashed Iranian oil sales, Tehran is struggling to sell its oil on the black market, at unknown volumes and prices.

Reuters recently reported that Tehran transferred an Iranian oil consignment of two million barrels to a Chinese tanker in Malaysia, which is already on its way to China.

While admitting that U.S. sanctions are pressing hard on the Iranian economy, Namdar Zanganeh insists that Tehran continues to export its crude.

However, he stopped short of disclosing the volume of oil Iran is selling. Revealing any information concerning Iran oil exports leads to more pressure from Washington, he argued.

Iran has committed to transfer oil to the two Chinese companies in exchange for their investment in some of its oilfields.

Washington says that it will investigate the delivery of Iranian oil to China. Nevertheless, without receiving 140,000 to 200,000 barrels of Iranian oil per day, the Chinese companies will not be able to receive any money from Tehran in return for their investment in West Karoun oilfields.

To sell its oil, Iran transfers crude consignments from one tanker to another. Moreover, it tries to sell oil “in the dark”, i.e., by switching off its tankers signals in the international waters to cover up the tracks. However, the signals are crucial in preventing the ships from colliding with each other and going “dark” endangers the safety of shipping.

Zanganeh who traveled to the Austrian capital of Vienna on Monday to attend a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), is on a mission to preserve the Islamic Republic's share of the global oil market.

At home, Zanganeh is under almost constant pressure from hardliners and right-wing lawmakers who've repeatedly tried to have him impeached and removed from office, Bloomberg reports.