China rejects US call to end Iran oil exports
US President Donald Trump's pressure on international firms not to buy Iranian oil will drive prices higher and end up hurting his own economy, a senior Iranian oil official said on Wednesday.
Iran’s OPEC Governor Hossein Kazempour Ardebili said oil should not be used as a weapon or to make political gains.
"Trump’s demand that Iranian oil should not be bought, and (his) pressures on European firms at a time when Nigeria and Libya are in crisis, when Venezuela's oil exports have fallen due to US sanctions, when Saudi Arabia’s domestic consumption has increased in the summer, is nothing but a self-harm," Ardebili said.
"It will increase the price of oil in the global markets," the official said. "At the end it is the American consumer who will pay the price for Mr. Trump’s policy," he added.
Oil prices edged up on Wednesday by looming US sanctions against Iran, which threaten to cut supplies in an already tight market.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 46 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $74.60 a barrel at 0343 GMT, compared with their last settlement. On Tuesday, WTI hit its highest since November 2014 at $75.27.
Brent crude futures were changing hands at $78.10 per barrel, up 34 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last close.
The United States pulled out of a multinational deal in May to lift sanctions against Iran in return for curbs to its nuclear program. Washington has since told countries they must halt all imports of Iranian oil as of Nov. 4 or face US financial measures, with no exemptions.
To make up for potential shortfalls in supply from Iran and other disruptions including in Libya and Venezuela, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has agreed with Russia and other oil-producing non-OPEC members to raise output from July.
OPEC-member Iran, however, has warned it would not accept other producers reaping the benefits by taking its market share.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday said it was "unwise to imagine that someday all producer countries will be able to export their surplus oil and Iran will not be able to export its oil."
Meanwhile, China said it has no plans to cooperate with Trump’s crackdown on the Iranian oil industry.
“China is always opposed to unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters when asked if China would cooperate with the US. “China and Iran are friendly countries.”
"We maintain normal exchanges and cooperation within the framework conforming to our respective obligations under international law," he added. "This is beyond reproach."
The US seeks to implement an aggressive package of sanctions on Iran which is backed up by the threat of additional sanctions on countries, even US allies, that persist in doing business with Iran — a tactic that has frustrated traditional friends and adversaries alike. Iran’s oil industry is a particularly high-profile target.
“Our focus is on getting as many countries importing Iranian crude down to zero as soon as possible,” Brian Hook, the US State Department’s director of policy planning, told reporters on Tuesday. “We are also working with oil market participants, including producers and consumers, to ensure market stability.”
Reuters and the Washington Examiner contributed to this story.