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Energy Trader: U.S. May Let Sanctioned Iranian Oil Onto Market Without Nuclear Deal

Official at Vito Group says Biden administration may turn ‘a somewhat greater blind eye’ if talk of high gas prices dominates midterm elections.
The Liberian-flagged oil tanker Ice Energy (L) transfers crude oil from the Russian-flagged oil tanker Lana (R) (former Pegas), off the shore of Karystos, on the Island of Evia, on May 29, 2022. (Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP)
The Liberian-flagged oil tanker Ice Energy (L) transfers crude oil from the Russian-flagged oil tanker Lana (R) (former Pegas), off the shore of Karystos, on the Island of Evia, on May 29, 2022. (Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP)

The US may allow more sanctioned Iranian oil onto global markets even without a revival of the 2015 nuclear accord, according to a Sunday report that quoted a major independent crude trader.

“Uncle Sam might just allow a little bit more of that oil to flow,” Mike Muller, head of Asia at Vitol Group, said Sunday on a podcast produced by Dubai-based Gulf Intelligence, according to Bloomberg.

“If the midterms are dominated by the need to get gas prices lower in America, turning a somewhat greater blind eye to the sanctioned barrels flowing out is probably something you might expect to see,” he added. “US intervention in these flows has always been pretty sparse.”

Muller spoke as countries have become skeptical that a new nuclear deal would be struck between negotiators, as talks between Tehran and world powers have stalled since March.

On Friday, Greece confirmed it would send 115,000 tons of Iranian oil from a Russian-flagged tanker, seized in April, to the United States at the request of the US Treasury and in line with the latter’s sanctions regime.

However, Muller said the move was unlikely to signal the start of more tanker seizures by the US.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden is expected to soon make a visit to Iran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia at a time when overriding US strategic interests in oil and security have pushed the administration to rethink the arms-length stance that Biden pledged to take with the Saudis as a candidate for the White House.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February has exacerbated concerns about oil supplies, helping send prices to record highs this year.

As a result, the OPEC+ cartel has been under pressure to open the valves more widely and relieve the market. OPEC+ announced last week that it decided to add 648,000 barrels per day to the market in July, up from 432,000 in previous months.

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