The U.S. government has agreed to let eight countries, including close allies South Korea and Japan, as well as India, keep buying Iranian oil after it reimposes sanctions on Tehran from next week, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing a U.S. official.
Iran’s biggest oil customers – all in Asia – have been seeking sanctions waivers to allow them to continue buying some of its oil.
Bloomberg reported that close U.S. allies South Korea and Japan had received waivers along with India, which relies heavily on supplies from Iran. A list of all countries getting waivers was expected to be released officially on Monday, Bloomberg said.
A Chinese official told Reuters that discussions with the U.S. government were ongoing and that a result was expected over the next couple of days.
“We think Trump will agree to China importing some volumes, similar to the treatment that India and South Korea receive,” Clayton Allen of Height Securities said in a note on Friday.
South Korea’s foreign ministry declined to comment, and Japanese officials were not immediately available for comment.
Another country that has been seeking a sanctions waiver is Turkey, which takes significant volumes via pipeline from neighboring Iran.
Turkey’s Energy Ministry said on Friday it had heard rumors of waivers but added it had not received written notification of any exemption on buying Iran oil after the United States reimposes sanctions on Tehran on Nov. 5.
Although some waivers had been expected, crude oil prices fell, with Brent futures down by 10 cents at 0752 GMT to $72.79 per barrel, as the number of waivers granted surprised many traders.
Analysts said, however, that Iranian oil sanction waivers would likely only be temporary.
“The U.S. may use waivers to slow-walk implementation, but these will not apply indefinitely,” Allen said.
Goldman Sachs said it expects Iran’s crude oil exports to fall to 1.15 million barrels per day (bpd) by the end of the year, down from around 2.5 million bpd in mid-2018.
Reporting by Henning Gloystein in SINGAPORE and Aizhu Chen in BEIJING; Additional reporting by Hyonhee Shin in SEOUL, Osamu Tsukimori in TOKYO, Gulsen Solaker in ANKARA; Editing by Richard Pullin and Tom Hogue