The U.S. announced that it has not renewed exemptions from sanctions for countries still buying oil from Iran and the export waivers will end on May 1.
The White House said it will not renew exemptions granted last year to buyers of Iranian oil, which included eight countries - China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece. These countries were granted waivers for six months to find alternative sources.
Three of the eight buyers - Greece, Italy and Taiwan - have already stopped importing Iranian oil. But the others have not stopped yet.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the decision was made to bring: "maximum pressure on the Iranian regime means maximum pressure. That’s why the U.S. will not issue any exceptions to Iranian oil importers. The global oil market remains well-supplied. We’re confident it will remain stable as jurisdictions transition away from Iranian crude.”
The sanctions have led to a sharp downturn in Iran's economy. Pompeo said that up to 40 per cent of Iran’s revenue comes from oil sales. Before sanctions Iran made $50 billion. He said that 6 months of sanctions have cut revenue to $40 billion.
The White House said it was working with top oil exporters Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to ensure the market was remain well supplied.
Pompeo stated: "We stand by our allies and partners as they transition away from Iranian crude to other alternatives. We have had extensive and productive discussions with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other major producers to ease this transition and ensure sufficient supply. This, in addition to increasing US production, underscores our confidence that energy markets will remain well supplied."
Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih, said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency: "The kingdom reaffirms its longstanding policy, which seeks to stabilise the markets at all times. The kingdom will coordinate with other oil producing countries to ensure adequate supplies to consumers."
Iranian exports are currently estimated to be below 1 million bpd, compared to more than 2.5 million bpd before President Trump re-imposed sanctions last May.