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US sanctions damage oil markets

US sanctions against Iran’s oil industry will damage the stability of global oil markets, a senior Iranian official was quoted as saying yesterday.

“These sanctions are an example of America’s bullying reaction in trying to change the balance of power in the world,” Amir Hossein Zamaninia, a deputy oil minister, said in a report carried by the oil ministry’s news website SHANA.

Oil prices hit their highest level since November last week after Washington announced all waivers on imports of sanctions-hit Iranian oil would end this week, pressuring importers to stop buying from Tehran and further tightening global supply.

The United States demanded last Monday that buyers of Iranian oil stop purchases by May 1 or face sanctions, ending six months of waivers which allowed Iran’s eight biggest buyers, most of them in Asia, to continue importing limited volumes.

The White House said after its Iran move it was working with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to ensure oil markets were “adequately supplied” but traders worried about tight supplies.

Other countries cannot fill Iran’s place in the oil market, Zamaninia said, according to SHANA.

“This idea that some countries can fill the empty place of Iran’s oil in the market is incorrect from different aspects, including a technical and political view,” Zamaninia said.

Separately, Zamaninia said the Gulf can only remain an international route for transferring oil if all countries are able to use it.

The commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ navy said last week that Iran would close the strategic Strait of Hormuz if Tehran is barred from using it.

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