Tehran is still subjected to US sanctions following the withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear accord and is struggling to export its oil and gas.
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has called on members of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) to avoid “cruel” sanctions imposed on Tehran.
This came during the GECF’s sixth summit in Doha, attended by Raisi at the invitation of Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Iran is amongst the members of the GECF and was the country that established the forum alongside Qatar in 2001.
“The members of this forum should not recognise those sanctions in today’s world we see that the sanctions are not going to be effective,” said Raisi.
Whilst the Iranian president spoke about sanctions in general, he mentioned the ones imposed on the country by the US as an example.
At the end of the summit, GECF members released the Doha Declaration, in which they expressed their “deep concern and disagreement to unilateral economic restrictions” on GECF member countries.
Similarly, the statement made no explicit mention of US sanctions on Iran.
In 2015, former US President Barack Obama along with members of the p5+1 signed the nuclear accord, technically known as the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Under the deal, the US would lift sanctions on Iran if the country reduces its nuclear activity.
The accord was ripped apart in 2018 when former US Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew his country from the deal as part of his “maximum pressure campaign” on Iran. In turn, Washington reimposed crippling sanctions on Tehran.
Iran’s oil and gas exports
Indirect talks between the US and Iran in Vienna aimed at restoring the historic nuclear accord kicked off last April shortly after President Joe Biden came to office. The negotiations started off on a positive note and saw the formation two working groups.
One focused on the lifting of US sanctions and another on ensuring that Iran reduces its nuclear activity. The US and Iran have since exchanged blame over their commitment to the accord and little progress was seen at the time.
Data collected by S&P Global in 2021 said that Iran would export up to 2.5 million barrels per day [b/d] of crude oil if the US lifted its sanctions on the country.
It noted that exports witnessed an increase when President Biden was elected in November. Experts believed that he would reverse Trump’s policies as soon as he assumed office.
S&P Global Platts Analytics estimated that Iran’s crude and condensate exports averaged 825,000 b/d in the first quarter of 2021, increasing from only 420,000 b/d in the third quarter of 2020.
Data released on 7 February by S&P Global Platts OPEC then estimated that Iran produced 2.5 million b/d in November and December 2021. Other figures by the US Energy Information Administration said that the production stood at 2.45 million b/d during the same period.
Before the sanctions were reimposed on Iran, crude oil production stood at 4 million b/d.
Raisi said that the country’s gas production has remained strong despite sanctions. The country has gas reserves of more than 1.2 tcf (trillion cubic feet), which would account for roughly 18% of the world’s reserves.
Iran produced 8.4 tcf of dry natural gas in 2019, mainly due to its domestic demand that remained unaffected by sanctions. The growth of its natural gas production was still slowed since 2018 as its exports were limited.
The latest round of talks witnessed more promising statements on the revival of the nuclear accord, saying that a deal is imminent.
On Sunday, Russia’s envoy at the nuclear talks said that the JCPOA will return in its original form.
In anticipation of revival of #JCPOA some analysts claim that the deal will be “weaker”. Not true. We will see JCPOA in its original form which by definition can not be weaker than in was in 2015.
— Mikhail Ulyanov (@Amb_Ulyanov) February 20, 2022
President Raisi told the press during his visit to Doha that the conclusion of a deal would rely on the removal of sanctions.
In a letter to Raisi on Sunday, 250 Iranian lawmakers presented six conditions for the nuclear deal. This included guarantees that the US would not withdraw out of the nuclear deal again and that all sanctions should be lifted.
The request for a guarantee comes after the US withdrawal created a state of mistrust from the Iranian side.
Qatar has been urging the restoration of the JCPOA and offered to mediate between the US andIran. Sheikh Tamim also stressed the importance of reaching a deal that would satisfy all sides whilst highlighting its ability to preserve regional stability and security.