Economic pressure can compel Tehran to moderate its destructive behavior and end its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Crude and natural gas exports historically account for 25% of government revenues: it is therefore important to accurately track Iran’s oil exports to interpret if sanctions are effectively stopping the flow of revenue to the regime.
This can be difficult given the regime’s track-record of smuggling and sanctions evasion techniques and there is little consensus among oil tracking agencies about how much is getting through, and to where.
This variance mars the accuracy of media reports, but it also presents a serious challenge to those trying to get a handle on the trajectory of the Iranian economy, given its oil revenue dependency.
More importantly, a correct accounting of quantities and destinations will help focus limited resources to where they are really needed: which shippers, which vessels, which areas, which ports, which flags, which insurers.
UANI has therefore sought to address the information gap with a new comprehensive ship-tracking methodology.
Using Automatic Identification System (AIS), satellite imagery, vessel comparison and tanker classification, and cargo datasets to uncover all under-the-radar ship-to-ship (STS) transfers and exports of Iranian oil and gas condensates, we generate what we contend are the most accurate figures available.
This resource seeks to disrupt Iran’s attempts to generate profits from oil sales and further isolate the regime economically.
As part of our campaign to disrupt Tehran’s oil sales revenue, UANI has launched a new resource, the Iran Tanker Tracker. This comprehensively tracks exports of Iranian oil through our ship-tracking methodology dating back to April 2018.In addition to our monthly Iran Tanker Tracking Blogs, the new resource provides a comparison of where Iran’s oil exports were pre-JCPOA, during the JCPOA, and post-JCPOA.
In June 2021, world oil prices surged to almost $75 a barrel as major economies ease coronavirus restrictions and demand returns. The situation in Iran, which sits on the fourth-largest reserves of oil, is also having a significant impact on prices. The Iran nuclear talks are dragging beyond what many anticipated, while the recent installation of a conservative cleric, Ebrahim Raisi, as President has also thrown another wrench into the prospects for any lifting of U.S. sanctions on Tehran’s energy exports. Read more
In November 2020, UANI identified 70 foreign vessels suspected of involvement in the illicit transfer of Iranian crude oil and/or petroleum products. Just seven months later, the list has grown to 123. This suspected rogue armada, distinct from but complementing Iran’s own NITC tanker fleet, has skirted U.S. sanctions and exploited regulatory loopholes to ship millions of barrels of Iranian oil.
One of the most frequently deployed tactics in evading oil sanctions is “flag hopping.” This involves the repeated switching of a ship’s “flag” – which permits legitimate global travel and docking rights – to different national registries. Often accompanied by the formation of new shell and front companies, ownership and name changes, and even alterations to ships’ physical markings, flag-hopping is a blight on legitimate maritime commerce. Read more