Iraq Emerges as New Front for Enforcementof Iran Oil Sanctions

October 23, 2020

Author: 

Sarah McFarlane and Benoit Faucon

Publication: 

The Wall Street Journal

Related Country: 

  • Iraq
  • United Arab Emirates

U.S. officials allege that Iranian oil tankers have been transferring their crude oil to other ships in the waters near the Iraqi port of al-Faw. Iranian oil is then mixed with non-Iranian oil to obscure its origins, allowing the oil to be sold on the international market as Iraqi. In March 2020, 230,000 barrels of Iranian oil from the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) were transferred to a vessel anchored in Iraq's territorial waters, blended with Iraqi oil, and then transferred to other ships. U.S. officials noted that these cargos often pass through countries allied with the United States, including Iraq and the United Arab Emirates. Iran is seeking ways to increase its energy exports, with some success. Exports in the first six months of 2020 (827,000 barrels per day) were up 28 percent over the previous six months; however they remain far below levels of May 2018 (2.7 million barrels per day).