US sanctions 13 companies supporting Iran oil sales
The United States introduces new sanctions on Iran, proving once again that the sanctions regime is of utmost priority in Washington.
The United States sanctioned on Thursday 13 companies with alleged ties to the facilitation of the sale of Iranian petrochemicals and petroleum products, the US treasury announced.
"Today, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned 13 companies in multiple jurisdictions facilitating the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of Iranian petrochemicals and petroleum products to buyers in East Asia," the Treasury said on Thursday.
According to the Treasury, the sanctioned companies facilitated trade on behalf of sanctioned Iranian petrochemical brokers Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industry Commercial Co. (PGPICC) and Triliance Petrochemical Co. Ltd. (Triliance), as well as the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and its marketing arm, Naftiran Intertrade Company Ltd. (NICO).
Four of the sanctioned entities are based in Hong Kong, one is based in the United Arab Emirates, and one is based in Singapore. The sanctions come due to the companies being involved in the Islamic Republic's "illicit petroleum and petrochemical trade" since June 2022, the Treasury claimed.
“Today's action further demonstrates the complex sanctions evasion methods Iran employs to illicitly sell petroleum and petrochemical products. The United States will continue to implement sanctions against those actors facilitating these sales," Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson said.
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According to the release, the sanctions mean that all property and interests in the property of the targeted entities must be blocked and reported to the OFAC.
This comes amid a slew of western sanctions targeting Tehran and amid reports about the United States seeking to deepen its ties with Venezuela in light of the ongoing global energy crisis.
The United States wants to lower gasoline prices for domestic consumers after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+) made cuts in its production line in a bid to stabilize the global market.
The US is concerned that OPEC's decision to reduce oil production will pose serious problems for the country and may even be interpreted as a hostile act, according to a US Treasury report.
The Biden administration is eyeing Venezuela for its vast reserves of crude oil as an additional source for the valuable resource in light of surging fuel prices in the United States. However, Washington does not intend to blanket lift the sanctions imposed on the Latin American country, sources told Russian news agency Sputnik last week.
Washington is concerned about the dependence Venezuelan refineries developed on Iranian heavy crude, especially El Palito. Iran has in the past six months exported 6.8 million barrels of its heavy crude to Venezuela's refineries.
Iranian Oil Minister Jawad Owji announced last month that the Islamic Republic launched its first overseas Iranian-built refinery in Venezuela, El Palito, which has a capacity of refining 100,000 barrels of Venezuelan crude per day.
Iran and Venezuela have managed to withstand economic pressure from the United States and have closely cooperated to offset the impact of illegal sanctions, particularly those targeting their energy sectors
Back in June, during a visit to Tehran, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced the signing of a 20-year cooperation plan with Iran to expand joint cooperation in various sectors, such as oil, banking, and economics.