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Iran mulls selling crude to domestic private buyers

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The CEO of the National Iranian Oil Company Mohsen Khojasteh Mehr

The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) is considering plans to sell crude oil for a first time to private buyers inside the country as the company seeks to maximize output and sales to meet revenue targets set by the government.

NIOC’s newly-appointed chief Mohsen Khojasteh Mehr said on Saturday that the company would seek to diversify its sales option mainly by relying on capacities of Iran’s private sector.

“We will use all legal capacities for crude sales including foreign buyers or qualified domestic buyers,” said Khojasteh Mehr in remarks covered by the Iranian parliament’s news service ICANA.

He said that other options for maximizing crude oil sales would be to barter crude for goods or for investment brought to the Iranian construction or energy projects.

The official said the Iranian Oil Ministry’s policy of diversifying crude sales options is meant to serve the Iranian government’s budget needs.

“The sales of crude should not be limited to the traditional form but it should be carried out in a professional and legal manner through using all capacities of the private sector,” said the NIOC chief.

The remarks come nearly a week after Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji said that the government had plans to pay energy projects investors in crude oil.

Owji said that the plans are part of a larger barter system involving crude which seeks to minimize the impacts of US sanctions on Iran’s crude exports.

The United States imposed its sanctions on Iran’s crude sales in mid-2018 and then toughened them a year later with the aim to cut to zero the country’s exports and hamper its access to hard currency revenues.

However, unconfirmed reports suggest Iran has been able to maintain at least half of its pre-sanctions exports of oil while trying to come up with innovative solutions to further increase the sales.

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