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Darkening horizon for US oil producers - the return of Iranian oil exports




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The National Iranian Oil Corporation has started to talk to its clients in Asia, particularly in India, to estimate the demand for its oil since Joe Biden took office.  According to Refinitiv Oil Research, Direct and indirect Iranian oil shipments to China increased in the last 14 months, reaching a record high in January-February. Oil output has also grown since Q4 2020.

Iran pumped as much as 4.8 million barrels per day before the sanctions were reimposed in 2018, and S&P Global Platts Analytics expects an agreement could bring full sanctions relief by Q4 2021, which could see volumes ramp up to 850,000 barrels per day by December to 3.55 million barrels per day, with further gains in 2022.

Iran has confirmed its readiness to increase oil production sharply. As a result of the nuclear deal and the lifting of international and unilateral sanctions, the country could have increased its oil exports by 2.5 million barrels per day.


Much of Iran's production is of heavier grades and condensate, and a relaxation of the sanctions will put pressure on the likes of neighbouring Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Oman, and even Texas frackers.

The refining hubs of Asia – China, India, South Korea, Japan, and Singapore – have regularly processed Iranian grades, as the high sulphur content and heavy or medium density fit the diet of these complex plants.

European refineries, especially those in Turkey, France, Italy, Spain and Greece, are also likely to return to purchasing Iranian oil once the sanctions are removed, as the additional volumes figure to be price-advantaged to Brent-linked crudes from the Mediterranean.


US seeking to mend fences with China?

It will be possible to judge the obvious signs of such rapprochement by the degree of progress on the Iranian issue. If trade restrictions on oil with Iran are eased or lifted - the main beneficiary (the recipient of oil) will be China and Chinese companies - from the largest to a huge number of small and medium-sized businesses. The decision on Iran is an indicator of US-China relations much more than public bickering.

And all this is happening against a backdrop of hard pressure on the brink of economic terror against the American shale production, and Shell has already become a victim. It is impossible not to recall the letter from 12 senators to President Biden, who warned of the negative consequences of the current administration's energy policy.

US fuel under pressure: aggressive energy policy of the Biden administration

Pressures on the oil and gas industry are growing along with concern over climate change. The Biden era has started with sharp moves against fossil fuel. Nobody expected fossil fuel to come under such an immediate attack.

Biden signed an executive order aimed to end fossil-fuel subsidies that suspends new oil and gas leases on public lands and directs federal agencies to purchase electric cars. Fossil fuel stocks have plunged on his actions, and banks, including Goldman Sachs Group have warned of a drop in U.S. crude supplies.[1]

Benefits to the climate from a ban on new oil and gas leases could take years to realise, according to economic analysts. Companies could respond by shifting some of their activities onto private lands in the U.S., and more oil would likely come in from overseas, said economist Brian Prest, who examined the effects of a long-term leasing ban for the research group Resources for the Future. As a result, almost three-quarters of the greenhouse gas emission reductions from a ban could be offset by oil and gas from other sources, said Prest. The net reduction would be about 100 million tons (91 million metric tons) of carbon dioxide annually, or less than 1% of global fossil fuel emissions, according to a study by a nonprofit research group.[2]

President Joe Biden has directed the federal government to develop a strategy to curb the risk of climate change on public and private financial assets in the U.S. The move is part of the Biden administration’s longer-term agenda to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions nearly in half by 2030 and transition to a net-zero economy by mid-century while curbing the damage climate change poses to all economic sectors.

This strategy may occur in quite a significant number of job cuts in the oil industry and that is while the U.S. economy recovers from job losses arising from the pandemic. Even limited job losses could profoundly affect local economies in oil-dependent states (such as Wyoming and New Mexico).

US domestic opposition to Biden’s energy policy

A group of GOP senators led by Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., sent a letter to President Biden in June. The senators see the strategy as “a fundamental threat to America’s long-term economic and national security”.[3]

The senators have urged the president to "take immediate actions to put America back on a path of energy independence and economic prosperity."

"If we are to overcome the economic consequences of the pandemic, it is imperative that necessities such as fuel take as little out of family budgets as possible.” Senators also noted that high energy costs "disproportionately affect low- and fixed-income households."

Republican Senators Tillis, John Barrasso of Wyoming, John Thune of South Dakota, John Cornyn of Texas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Steve Daines of Montana, Rick Scott of Florida, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, John Hoeven of North Dakota and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee signed the letter.

 OPEC: global oil market prospects for 2H 2021

An approximate growth in supplies in 1H 2021 amounted to 1.1 million barrels per day compared to 2H 2020. Following this, in 2H 2021, oil supplies from countries outside OPEC, including natural gas liquids from OPEC, are predicted to grow by 2.1 million barrels per day compared with 1H 2021 and by 3.2 million barrels per day year-on-year.

It is expected that supplies of liquid hydrocarbons from countries outside OPEC will increase by 0.84 million barrels per day year-on-year in 2021. At the regional level, in 2H 2021, it is expected that approximately 1.6 million barrels per day from total added production of 2.1 million barrels per day will come from OECD countries, with 1.1 million barrels per day coming from the USA and the rest – from Canada and Norway. At the same time, in 2H 2021, growth in supply of liquid hydrocarbons from regions other than OECD is forecasted at only 0.4 million barrels per day. In general, it is expected that the recovery of the global economy growth and, as a result, recovery of oil demand will gain momentum in 2H 2021.

At the same time, successful actions under the cooperation agreement have in fact paved the way for rebalancing of the market. This long-term outlook, along with constant and continuous joint monitoring of developments, as well as the expected recovery across various sectors of the economy, continue to indicate support for the oil market.





EU’s Borrell: No ministerial meeting with Iran this week in New York



EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell insisted that there will no ministerial meeting with Iran at the United Nations headquarters in New York this week to discuss a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), contrary to what French Foreign Minister Yves Le Drian suggested, writes Yossi Lempkowicz.

Speaking to journalists, Borrell repeated several times that there would not be a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission on Wednesday (22 September).

“Some years it happens, some years it doesn’t happen. It’s not in the agenda,” said Borrell, who acts as coordinator for the JCPOA.


Le Drian said on Monday (20 September) that there would be a ministerial meeting of the nuclear deal parties.

“We need to take advantage of this week to restart these talks. Iran must accept to return as quickly as possible by appointing its representatives for the negotiations,” the French minister said.

The JCPOA Joint Commission, made up of Foreign Ministers from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia and from Iran, had met in Vienna in order to discuss a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, but talks were adjourned in June after hardliner Ebrahim Raisi was elected Iran’s president.


‘’The important thing is not this ministerial meeting, but the will of all parties to resume negotiations in Vienna,” said Borrell who was due to meet the new Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian in New York.

"I will have the first opportunity to know and to talk with the new Minister of Iran. And, certainly, during this meeting, I will call on Iran to resume the talks in Vienna as soon as possible," he added.

“After the elections (in Iran) the new presidency asked for the delay in order to take fully take stock of the negotiations and understand better everything about this very sensitive file,” Borrell said. “The summer has already passed by and we expect that the talks can be resuming soon in Vienna.”

The world powers held six rounds of indirect talks between the United States and Iran in Vienna to try and work out how both can return to compliance with the nuclear pact, which was abandoned by former US President Donald Trump in 2018.

Trump reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran, which then started breaching curbs on its nuclear programme. Tehran has said its nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes only.

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden stressed his willingness to resume the 2015 deal if Iran complies with its terms. “The United States remains committed to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon… We’re prepared to return to full compliance with the deal if Iran does the same,” he said.

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In Iran, hardline executioners and human-rights violators can run for presidency



The new president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi (pictured), assumed office on the fifth of August, writes Zana Ghorbani, Middle East analyst and researcher specializing in Iranian affairs.

The events leading up to Raisi’s election were some of the most blatant acts of government manipulation in Iran’s history. 

Mere weeks before the polls opened in late June, the regime’s Guardian Council, the regulatory body under the direct control of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, swiftly disqualified hundreds of presidential hopefuls including many reformist candidates that had been growing in popularity among the public. 


Being the regime insider that he is, as well as a close ally of Supreme Leader Khamenei, it was hardly a surprise the government took measures to insure Raisi’s victory. What is slightly more surprising is the extent to which Ebrahim Raisi has participated in nearly every atrocity committed by the Islamic Republic over the past four decades. 

Raisi has been long known, both in Iran and internationally, as a brutal hardliner. Raisi’s career has been essentially wielding the power of Iran’s judiciary in order to facilitate the Ayatollah’s worst possible human rights violations.    

The newly installed president became part and parcel of the Revolutionary government shortly following its inception. After participating in the 1979 coup that overthrew the shah, Raisi, the sion of a prestigious clerical family and learned in Islamist jurisprudence, was appointed the new regimes court system. While still a young man, Raisi held several prominent judicial positions throughout the country. By the late 1980’s Raisi, still a young man, became the assistant prosecutor for the country’s capital Tehran. 


In those days, the revolutions leader Ruhollah Khomeini and his henchmen were faced with a population still full of shah supporters, secularists, and other political factions opposed to the regime. Thus, the years in the roles of municipal and regional prosecutors offered Raisi ample experience in repressing political dissidents. The challenge of the regime in crushing its opponents reached its peak during the later years of the Iran - Iraq War, a conflict that put tremendous strain on the fledgling Iranian government, and nearly drained the state of all its resources. It was this backdrop that led to the greatest and most well known of Raisi’s human rights crimes, the event that has come to be known as the 1988 Massacre.

In the summer of 1988, Khomeini sent a secret cable to a number of top officials ordering the execution of political prisoners being held throughout the country. Ebrahim Raisi, at this time already the assistant prosecutor for the country's capital Tehran, was appointed to the four man panel that issued the execution orders. According to international human rights groups, Khomeini’s order, executed by Raisi and his colleagues, led to the deaths of thousands of prisoners in a matter of weeks. Some Iranian sources place the total death toll at as many as 30,000.          

But Raisi’s history of brutality didn’t end with the 1988 killings. Indeed, Raisi has had consistent involvement in every major regime crackdown on its citizens in the three decades since.  

After years of occupying prosecutorial posts. Raisi ended up in senior positions in the judiciary branch, eventually landing the job of Chief Justice, the top authority of the entire judicial system. Under Raisi’s leadership, the court system became a regular tool of cruelty and oppression. Almost unimaginable violence was used as a matter of course when interrogating political prisoners. The recent account of Farideh Goudarzi, a former anti-regime activist serves as a chilling example. 

For her political activities, Goudarzi was arrested by regime authorities and taken to northwest Iran’s Hamedan Prison. “I was pregnant at the time of arrest,” relates Goudarzi, “and had a short time left before delivery of my baby. Despite my conditions, they took me to the torture room right after my arrest,” she said. “It was a dark room with a bench in the middle and a variety of electric cables for beating prisoners. There were about seven or eight torturers. One of the people who was present during my torture was Ebrahim Raisi, then chief Prosecutor of Hamedan and one of the members of the Death Committee in the 1988 massacre.” 

In recent years, Raisi has had a hand in crushing the widespread anti-regime activism that have arisen in his country. The 2019 protest movement which saw mass demonstrations across Iran, was met with fierce opposition by the regime. When the protests began, Raisi had just begun his stint as Chief Justice. The uprising was the perfect opportunity to demonstrate his methods for political repression. The judiciary gave security forces carte blanche authority to put down demonstrations. Over the course of roughly four months, some 1,500 Iranians were killed while protesting their government, all at the behest of Supreme Leader Khamenei and facilitated by Raisi’s judiciary apparatus. 

The persistent demands of Iranians for justice have at best been ignored. Activists who attempt to hold Iranian officials accountable are to this day persecuted by the regime.  

The U.K. based Amnesty International has recently called for a complete investigation into the crimes of Ebrahim Raisi, stating that the man’s status as president cannot exempt him from justice. With Iran today at the center of international politics, it is crucial the true nature of Iran’s top official is fully recognized for what it is.

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European dignitaries and international law experts describe 1988 massacre in Iran as genocide and a crime against humanity



In an online conference coinciding with the anniversary of the 1988 massacre in Iran, more than 1,000 political prisoners and witnesses of torture in the Iranian prisons demanded an end to the impunity enjoyed by the regime leaders and to prosecute the supreme leader Ali Khamenei and the President Ebrahim Raisi, and other perpetrators of the massacre.

In 1988, based on a fatwa (religious order) by the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ruhollah Khomeini, the clerical regime executed at least 30,000 political prisoners, more than 90% of whom were activists of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI), the principal Iranian opposition movement. They were massacred for their steadfast commitment to MEK’s ideals and the Iranian people’s freedom. The victims were buried in secret mass graves and there has never been an independent UN inquiry.

Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and hundreds of prominent political figures, as well as jurists and leading experts on human rights and international law from around the world, participated in the conference.


In her address, Rajavi said: The clerical regime wanted to break and defeat every member and supporter of the MEK by torturing, burning, and flogging. It tried all evil, malicious, and inhuman tactics. Finally, in the summer of 1988, MEK members were offered a choice between death or submission coupled with renouncing their loyalty to the MEK….They courageously adhered to their principles: the overthrow of the clerical regime and the establishment of freedom for the people.

Mrs. Rajavi underscored that the appointment of Raisi as president was an open declaration of war on the people of Iran and the PMOI/MEK. Emphasizing that the Call-for-Justice Movement is not a spontaneous phenomenon, she added: For us, the Call-for-Justice movement is synonymous with perseverance, steadfastness, and resistance to overthrow this regime and establish freedom with all our strength. For this reason, denying the massacre, minimizing the number of victims, and erasing their identities is what the regime is seeking because they serve its interests and ultimately help preserve its rule. Concealing the names and destroying the graves of the victims serve the same purpose. How can one seek to destroy the MEK, crush their positions, values, and red lines, eliminate the Resistance’s Leader, and call himself a sympathizer of the martyrs and seek justice for them? This is the ploy of the mullahs' intelligence services and the IRGC to distort and divert the Call-for-Justice Movement and undermine it.

She called on the US and Europe to recognize the 1988 massacre as genocide and crime against humanity. They must not accept Raisi in their countries. They must prosecute and hold him accountable, she added. Rajavi also reinstated her call to the UN Secretary-General, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Human Rights Council, the UN special rapporteurs, and international human rights organizations to visit the Iranian regime's prisons and meet with the prisoners there, especially the political prisoners. She added that the dossier of human rights violations in Iran, especially regarding the regime's conduct in prisons, should be submitted to the UN Security Council.


Participants in the conference that last more than five hours, took part from more than 2,000 locations the world over.

In his remarks, Geoffrey Robertson, First President of the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone, referring to Khomeini's fatwa calling for the annihilation of the MEK and calling them Mohareb (enemies of God) and used by the regime as the basis of the massacre, he reiterated: “It seems to me that there is very strong evidence that this was a genocide. It applies to killing or torturing a certain group for their religious beliefs. A religious group that did not accept the backward ideology of the Iranian regime… There is no doubt that there is a case for prosecuting [regime President Ebrahim] Raisi and others. There has been a crime committed that engages international responsibility. Something must be done about it as has been done against the perpetrators of the Srebrenica massacre.”

Raisi was a member of the “Death Commission” in Tehran and sent thousands of the MEK activists to the gallows.

According to Kumi Naidoo, secretary-general of Amnesty International (2018-2020): “The 1988 massacre was a brutal, bloodthirsty massacre, a genocide. It is moving for me to see the strength and courage of people who have been through so much and seen so much tragedy and endure these atrocities. I'd like to pay tribute to all the MEK prisoners and applaud you… The EU and broader international community must take the lead on this issue. This government, led by Raisi, has even greater culpability on the issue of the 1988 massacre. Governments that behave like this must recognize that behavior is not so much a show of force as an admission of weakness.”

Eric David, an expert on international humanitarian law from Belgium, also confirmed the characterization of genocide and crimes against humanity for the 1988 massacre.

Franco Frattini, foreign minister of Italy (2002–2004 and 2008–2011) and European commissioner for justice, freedom and security (2004–2008) said: "The actions of the new government of Iran are in line with the regime's history. The new foreign minister has served under previous governments. There is no difference between conservatives and reformists. It is the same regime. This is confirmed by the Foreign Minister's closeness to the commander of the Quds Force. He even confirmed that he would continue the path of Qassem Soleimani. Finally, I hope for an independent investigation with no limitation into the 1988 massacre. The credibility of the UN system is at stake. The UN Security Council has a moral duty. The UN owes this moral duty to innocent victims. Let us seek justice. Let us go forward with a serious international investigation."

Guy Verhofstadt, prime minister of Belgium (1999 to 2008) pointed out: “The 1988 massacre targeted an entire generation of young people. It is crucial to know that this was planned in advance. It was planned and rigorously executed with a clear target in mind. It qualifies as genocide. The massacre was never officially investigated by the UN, and the perpetrators were not indicted. They continue to enjoy impunity. Today, the regime is run by the killers of that time.”

Giulio Terzi, foreign minister of Italy (2011 to 2013) said: “Over 90% of those executed in the 1988 massacre were MEK members and supporters. The prisoners chose to stand tall by refusing to renounce their support for the MEK. Many have called for an international investigation into 1988 massacre. EU High Representative Josep Borrell should end his usual approach toward the Iranian regime. He should encourage all UN member states to demand accountability for Iran’s great crime against humanity. Thousands of people are out there who expect a more assertive approach by the international community, especially the EU.”

John Baird, Canada's foreign minister (2011-2015), also addressed the conference and condemned the 1988 massacre. He, too, called for an international investigation into this crime against humanity.

Audronius Ažubalis, minister of foreign affairs of Lithuania (2010 – 2012), underscored: "No one has yet faced justice for this crime against humanity. There is no political will to hold the perpetrators to account. A UN investigation into the 1988 massacre is a must. The European Union has ignored these calls, shown no reaction, and not been prepared to show a reaction. I want to call on the EU to sanction the regime for crimes against humanity. I think Lithuania can take the lead among EU members.”

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