Wednesday, 15 January, 2020

Saudi Arabia takes 2 new hostile measures against Iran

Saudi Arabia continues to take hostile measures against Iran as Islamic republic tries to re-join international markets following the lifting of sanctions under the historic nuclear deal:

Saudi Arabia acts to slow Iran’s oil exports

Saudi Arabia has taken steps to slow Iran’s efforts at increasing oil exports, banning vessels that transport Iranian crude from entering their waters, the FT reports, quoting shipping data.

Due to these obstacles, by mid-April only about eight tankers will have sailed from Iran for Europe according to shipbrokers, the newspaper reports. The transported cargo is only 12 million barrels.

After the sanctions on Iranian oil ended in January, Tehran has only managed to export small quantities of oil to Europe.

Intertanko and other industry players have told the FT there are no formal restrictions by Riyadh, but no one wants to complicate relations with the Kingdom.

”It’s seen as an unknown risk. No one wants to disrupt their relationship with the Saudis,” said one shipbroker.

Some of the traders say Saudi Arabia is blocking Iran’s access to SUMED, the Arab Petroleum Pipeline Company Tehran used to send crude from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean before sanctions were imposed.

SUMED’s is half owned by Egypt, with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE together holding a 45 percent stake in the company.

The oil market is now waiting for the world’s leading crude producers, headed by Russia and Saudi Arabia, to meet on April 17 in Qatar to discuss an output freeze.

According to OPEC Secretary General Abdalla Salem el-Badri, these talks may be successful even without Iran’s participation. Tehran wants to boost its production to the pre-sanctions level of four million barrels per day (bpd) from the current 2.8 million bpd.

However, this has been put under question by Saudi Arabian Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who last week said Riyadh would agree to freeze oil production only if Iran joins the pact.

On Sunday, Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said the Islamic Republic boosted its exports to 2 million bpd.

Saudi Arabia bans Iran’s Mahan Air from its airspace

Saudi Arabia’s aviation authority said Monday it had banned Iran’s Mahan Air from using its airports and air space over “safety concerns”, Reuters reported.

The General Authority for Civil Aviation said it decided to stop “permits granted to Iran’s Mahan Air, ban it from landing in the kingdom’s airports or passing through its air space,” according to a statement carried by SPA state news agency.

The authority cited “violations of national regulations related to safety of international carriers” but did not specify the violations.

Saudi Arabia severed all air links with Iran in January after the two countries cut diplomatic ties following Riyadh’s execution of prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

Demonstrators had stormed the Saudi consulates in the Iranian city of Mashhad and the capital Tehran after Nimr’s execution, to which Saudi retaliated with cutting off diplomatic and commercial ties.

The UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, Qatar, Kuwait and other nations followed suit by recalling their ambassadors from Iran.

Some 150 direct flights a month connected Saudi Arabia and Iran, ferrying pilgrims to Muslim holy sites.

It is not clear when the violations referred to by the Saudi aviation authority were committed.

Mahan Air’s website does not show any scheduled flights to Saudi Arabia.

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