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EghtesadOnline: Iran Energy Exchange will launch crude oil futures from next week as part of a plan to facilitate oil exports as US sanctions targeting its energy sector in November draw nearer.

According to an oil ministry deputy, oil futures will be launched for the sole purpose of exports and one million barrels will be offered on the stock exchange.

Ali Kardor, the chief executive officer of state oil company NIOC told IRNA on Monday that the timing of starting the oil futures trade is being determined. 

"We are now setting the direction [for the futures trade] that could be subject to revision in some cases," Kardor said. The previously proposed method for oil payments to be settled 80% in foreign currency and 20% in rials is also being reviewed, according to Financial Tribune.

Tehran has often tried to launch a crude futures several times in the past to let the private sector participate in the state-dominated sector in the past but to no avail. First Vice President Esh'haq Jahangiri said in early summer that the government was embarking on new efforts to bring oil trade to the stock market. 

"Iran's crude oil will be offered at the bourse so that private companies can buy and export it," Jahangiri said, adding that the move was aimed at containing the mounting US animosity and its intention to block Iran's oil export. 

Securities and Exchange Organization Head Shapour Mohammadi had said in July that the conditions are ready for offering crude oil on IRENEX.  The official expressed hope that trading crude on IRENEX will occur soon through follow-up measures by the oil and economy ministries.

Mohammadi referred to the several-year delay to start offering crude oil at IRENEX. “It seems that the grounds are now paved” for the new type of crude oil sales.

In the past Iran had resorted to sanctions busters to sell its oil, which went awry when some people failed to channel the oil export revenues to the state coffers. 

Mixed Signals 

IRENEX has been upbeat on reports that it is about to host crude futures and share prices in that market have quadrupled in a short time, according to Donaye Bourse website. According to its analysis, such reactions by investors are rather premature and overly optimistic because with current trends in global oil prices and limits on Iranian exports, not much profit can be made  by traders from the launch of a crude futures.  

Pundits opposed to the plan also say that private traders' foray into the oil market would reduce the government's share and hurt prices.  

The US is getting ready to impose oil sanctions in early November.  The restrictions were suspended under the deal that the United States and other five world powers  in 2015. But after President Trump announced in May that he was abandoning the historic agreement, US officials went about pressuring countries to stop buying Iranian oil to prevent it from its main source of income. They have also threatened secondary penalties if the sanctions are defied.

Brent crude prices rose to their highest since November 2014 on Monday ahead of the US sanctions against Iran, the third-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. 

Benchmark Brent crude oil futures rose to as much as $83.27 a barrel and were at $83.21 at 0339 GMT, up 48 cents, or 0.6 % from their last close.


Iran Oil futures US sanctions Energy exchange energy sector oil exports crude oil futures