So much for Iranian oil flooding the market.
After days, and weeks and months and years of failed attempts to revive the JCPOA, aka the Iranian nuclear deal, on Wednesday the Biden administration announced it was putting sanctions on 15 individuals and entities who have been involved in illicit sales and shipments of millions of dollars' worth of Iranian oil.
The newest sanctions, unveiled by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, come as the latest efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal failed just last week.
"The United States is designating 15 individuals and entities that engaged in the illicit sales and shipment of Iranian petroleum, petroleum products, and petrochemical products. These entities, located in Iran, Vietnam, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Hong Kong, have supported Iranian energy trade generating millions of dollars' worth of illicit revenue," Blinken said in a statement.
We are imposing sanctions on Iranian petroleum and petrochemical producers, transporters, and front companies. Absent a commitment from Iran to return to the JCPOA, an outcome we continue to pursue, we will keep using our authorities to target Iran's exports of energy products.— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) July 6, 2022
"While the United States is committed to achieving an agreement with Iran that seeks a mutual return to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, we will continue to use all our authorities to enforce sanctions on the sale of Iranian petroleum and petrochemicals," added Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson.
Blinken said that the three Iran-based entities sanctioned by the State Department include: Zagros Tarabaran-E Arya, which is a shipper of Iranian petroleum products; Persian Gulf Star Oil Company is the largest producer of gas condensate in Iran; and East Ocean Rashin Shipping Co. Ltd., which is a port agent and freight forwarder of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products.
"The United States has been sincere and steadfast in pursuing a path of meaningful diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It is Iran that has, to-date, failed to demonstrate a similar commitment to that path. Absent a change in course from Iran, we will continue to use our sanctions authorities to target exports of petroleum, petroleum products, and petrochemical products from Iran," Blinken said.
Bottom line: the Biden admin has lost patience with Iran, having realized Tehran never intended to bring the JCPOA deal to closure on mutually acceptable terms. Expect creeping sanctions to accelerate and to envelop more and more official Iranian entities as long as Tehran continues toying with Biden. And since there is no reason why Iran should change its behavior - after all the middle east oil producer sells as much as oil as it wants to China who ignores US sanctions and buys both Iranian and Russian oil at significant discounts (in fact, Iran is now competing to undercut Russia on oil price) - the only loser here are US consumers and motorists who will not benefit from the potential pool 1-2 mmb/d of legitimate Iranian exports which would sharply lower US gas prices. Instead the only winner here will be China.