By Timothy Gardner
WASHINGTON, March 1 – The Trump administration is comfortable that there is enough oil in the global market months into its program of unilaterally re-imposing sanctions on OPEC-member Iran, the State Department’s energy envoy said on Friday.
U.S. law requires that the Energy Information Administration, the statistics arm of the Energy Department, studies whether oil market supplies are ample enough to carry out the sanctions. The Trump administration re-imposed sanctions on Iran‘s crude oil exports in November over its nuclear program and influence in Syria and other countries in the Middle East.
The sanctions have roughly halved Iran‘s oil exports from last April to about 1.25 million barrels per day.
“We’re quite comfortable … given that EIA continues to on a monthly basis to adjust their forecasts … upward,” Frank Fannon, the energy envoy, said at the Center for Strategic & International Studies. “I think that’s a pretty powerful signal.”
Fannon and other U.S. officials have said the Trump administration’s goal is to push Iran‘s oil exports to zero. But actually doing so could prove difficult amid strong oil demand, especially in China and India.
Oil output is rising quickly in the United States, the world’s top petroleum consumer, helping to keep global oil markets balanced. U.S. crude oil production has risen by more than 2 million barrels per day over the past year to a record 12 million barrels per day.
In November, the United States granted waivers to China and seven other importers, allowing them to continue importing Iranian oil as long as they cut the purchases significantly. The administration is set to decide whether it will renew waivers to oil-consuming countries on May 4.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Dan Grebler)