The Iranian oil embargo is underway: Iran is struggling to find buyers for its crude, with top Asian consumers seeking to cut purchases as tightening US sanctions make it difficult to keep doing business with the OPEC producer.
On January 23, the European Union formally adopted an oil embargo against the Islamic Republic, as part of sanctions meant to pressure the country to resume talks on its nuclear program.
- EU formally adopts Iran oil embargo
- Ahmadinejad: Western embargo won't hurt Iran
- Iran halts oil exports to UK, France
The boycott is set to commence in July, but Tehran's European customers are already beginning to walk away from Iranian oil, saying that they will reduce flows to the continent in March by more than a third – or over 300,000 barrels daily.
China, India and Japan, the top three buyers of Iranian oil, together buy about 45% of the Islamic Republic's exports and all of them are planning cuts of at least 10%.
Oil prices have skyrocketed lately, hitting a nine-month record of $108 a barrel.
In an effort to curb oil prices, Saudi Arabia has said that it will increase production by some two million barrels a day.
Iran has repeatedly flouted the threat, saying it will have no trouble fining other clients for its crude. In retaliation to the EU's decision, the Islamic Republic halted oil shipments to Britain and France, threatening to impose the same measure against six other EU nations.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said the move can only "make one smile," adding that the Islamic Republic is "very imaginative" in provoking other nations and that Iranian oil had little significance to Paris.
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