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.
This month, Iran’s oil exports reached levels not seen since 2017. During the first 20 days of August, Iran dispatched an average of two million barrels of oil daily. This marks a substantial increase of more than 30% compared to previous months. The key to understanding this oil export surge lies in the relaxation of sanctions enforcement by the Biden administration, particularly to China. This approach has opened avenues for Iran to revive and significantly increase its exports.
The Biden Administration’s recent deal to free five Iranian-American hostages held by Iran is symptomatic. This agreement involves releasing an unknown number of Iranian agents or sanctions violators held in U.S. jails, along with the release of over $6 billion of Iranian assets frozen by South Korea. This deal rewards the regime for its hostile actions and could incentivize Tehran, and even other outlaw regimes, to take more hostages in the future. Read more
On June 11, 2022, Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi signed a 20-year cooperation agreement to expand ties in the oil and petrochemical industries, the military, and the economy. Since then, bilateral ties have mushroomed, with Iran supplying over 26 million barrels of crude oil and gas condensate in 2022. In exchange, Venezuela has delivered about the same volume of fuel oil cargo to Iran. Most shipments are carried by National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) vessels– in both directions: once discharged of Iranian crude and gas in Venezuelan ports, the same NITC tankers load Venezuelan fuel oil on the return leg to Iran. Read more
…This case is linked to the Iranian regime’s oil smuggling through the Suez Rajan oil tanker. The smuggling documents were revealed by the ‘United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI).’ This incident highlighted the Iranian regime’s attempts to load crude oil from Khark Island in the Persian Gulf and smuggle it. After loading the regime’s crude oil, the Suez Rajan oil tanker initially sailed to Singapore, where it remained for several months before heading to the Gulf of Mexico. However, it was subsequently seized by the United States for violating sanctions, and its oil was offloaded in Texas.