US President Donald Trump has pledged to squeeze Iran’s oil exports down to a trickle, pushing oil prices to levels not seen since 2014.
“Trump thought he could shrink our country’s oil revenues by imposing sanctions on Iran’s oil and cutting its exports, but the rise in oil prices did not let that happen,” Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, the head of Iran’s Planning and Budget Organization, said Thursday.
He said the budget for the current fiscal year has been drawn up on the basis of an oil price of $55 a barrel, but the country’s sales have averaged $70 a barrel so far.
The government also expected to sell 2.4 million barrels per day of oil during the current Iranian calendar year, which started in mid-March, but it exported 2.5 barrels in reality, he said.
Oil prices remain at four-year highs on rising doubts about the capability of Saudi Arabia and other producers to substitute Iran’s crude after the US imposes new sanctions on the country on November 4.
Earlier on Wednesday, Iranian First Vice-President Es’haq Jahangiri told a parliamentary session that “despite the mischief of the Americans, Iran’s oil exports have surpassed state budget outlay projections.”
“Notwithstanding all the pressures that the Americans are creating on the oil issue, Iran has its own oil customers, and the work is going on in a way that no problems will arise,” he said.
International benchmark Brent crude was up 38 cents at $85.18 a barrel on Wednesday, after hitting its highest level since November 2004 on Monday at $85.45.
The US is about to impose new sanctions on Iran’s oil sector on Nov. 4, with the White House saying Saudi King Salman had promised Trump that the kingdom had enough spare capacity to replace Iranian barrels.
However, Iran’s OPEC Governor Hossein Kazempour Ardabili says the US president has apparently been duped by Saudi Arabia.
Iranian Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh said on Tuesday Iran will go full-throttle to maintain its market share as he blamed Trump for the surge in oil prices.
“The US is doing all it can to prevent us from producing and supplying oil to the market, but Iran is producing its crude oil with force,” he said.
“Mr. Trump has said OPEC is responsible for rising oil prices and has to raise production, but one must say that OPEC is not responsible, but the Trump himself is responsible for the rise,” Zangeneh added.