According to government figures, the United States has sold about 2 million barrels of Iranian Crude oil after seizing an oil tanker off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. The presence of Iranian oil in new numbers issued by the US Energy Information Agency over the weekend raised the ire of commodities traders, as Tehran remains the subject of a series of US sanctions.
In March, the EIA reported little over 1 million barrels of Iranian Crude oil imports. The oil came from the MT Achilleas, a ship seized by the US in February off Fujairah, an Emirati port city. According to court documents, Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard attempted to sell crude oil to China using the Achilleas, which was susceptible to seizure under American anti-terrorism statutes.
Since former President Donald Trump’s administration, the US has designated the Guard as a terrorist group. Prosecutors claim that shippers sought to hide the consignment by labeling it “Basra light crude” from Iraq’s border. According to court filings, the US government moved the Achilleas to Houston, Texas. It sold the vessel’s slightly over 2 million barrels of crude oil for $110 million, or roughly $55 a barrel. The funds will be held in escrow while the case is being resolved in court.
In July 1977, when trade with Iran was at its peak, the United States imported 26.5 million barrels of Iranian Crude, which the American-allied Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi then ruled. Following Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979, sales plummeted to nothing in the months that followed.Imports have decreased to nothing in the years afterward, owing to increased tensions between the West and Iran over its nuclear program.