Despite a robust sanctions regime by the U.S., Iranian officials have still budgeted for 25% of the nation’s oil to be exported. That is likely necessary for the economic stability of the country, but will prove difficult after the Trump administration stopped granting sanctions waivers that allow several countries to import limited supplies from Iran.
Oil analysts agree that Iran will likely go through back channels to find buyers, although the price for that oil would be at a steep discount. Data from Genscape, a company that looks at oil production levels of different countries has shown that Iran has, in fact, upped its production in the last two months, although no orders have been made for the month of May.
Iran had been shipping about one to three million barrels a month to Syria, TankerTrackers says. But due to increased pressure from the U.S., those shipments virtually came to a halt towards the end of 2018, impacting Iran’s fragile economy and creating a fuel shortage in Syria, which imports nearly 75% of its crude.
Through a long-standing relationship with Syria, Iran had previously extended a line of credit to Damascus for oil shipments dating back to 2013. However, that line of credit had been halted since October 2018 ahead of U.S. sanctions.