US to Give Eight Nations Oil Waivers Under Iran Sanctions

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WTI and Brent crude futures continued to trend lower following reports that the United States has agreed to let several countries keep purchasing Iranian oil.

The waivers are being granted for continued import cuts, so that oil prices do not shoot up, the official added.

A list of all countries getting waivers is expected to be released officially on Monday, several industry sources said.

The Bloomberg report however states that the waivers are temporary and the U.S. "expects" countries that are getting waivers to keep cutting Iranian imports in the coming months.

The lack of clarity about USA waivers from sanctions, who's getting such waivers (if at all), and how much reductions would be required for possibly winning a waiver, has been clouding the outlook for Iran's oil supply to the market, while the sanctions snap back in just four days. The report states that an estimated reduction of 1.1 million barrels a month has been managed by the pressure campaign, according to USA estimates.

India had imported about 22 million tonnes of crude oil from Iran in 2017-18 and initially planned to raise that to about 30 million tonnes in 2018-19.

Despite Mr. Trump fulfilling a campaign promise by re-imposing the sanctions, some Obama-era officials including former Secretary of State John Kerry have been caught working behind the scene to help the European Union continue their trade.

A Chinese official told Reuters that discussions with the USA government were ongoing and that a result was expected over the next couple of days.

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China - the leading importer of Iranian oil - is still in discussions with the USA on terms, but is among the eight, according to two people familiar with the discussions who also asked not to be identified. "I don't know whether these waivers are permanent or temporary", state TV quoted Iran's Deputy Oil Minister Ali Kardor as saying.

Another country that has been seeking a sanctions waiver is Turkey, which takes significant volumes via pipeline from neighbouring Iran.

However, he said, he had not received written notification regarding the possible exemption.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry declined to comment, and Japanese officials were not immediately available for comment.

U.S. hardliners want to press ahead on SWIFT, but others argue to keep the option as a bargaining card with the Europeans and say that SWIFT access remains useful in tracking Iranian transactions.

U.S. Arab allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as Israel have long sought for Washington to work to curtail non-Arab and predominantly Shiite Muslim Iran's influence in the Middle East, including in war-torn Syria.

"The U.S. may use waivers to slow-walk implementation, but these will not apply indefinitely", Allen said.

Russian Federation has been planning to import oil from Tehran but no major projects have materialized.