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EghtesadOnline: Oil has always been a function of the international market, so setting up local energy markets cannot help the National Iranian Oil Company sell crude on a long-term basis, a veteran financial expert said.

“The Energy Bourse should have been established 20 years ago to deliver now. Financial instruments like the Iran Energy Exchange (IRENEX) are no miracle makers,” Hossein Abdoh Tabrizi was quoted as saying by ILNA.

Those in charge should have introduced oil and its byproducts to overseas markets long before the US sanctions started taking a toll, he said, echoing the near permanent position of top economic experts and opinion-makers that critical decisions in Tehran are made very late and at high cost to the national economy.

Abdoh Tabrizi said trading crude oil in international markets started soon after the black gold was discovered, so expecting a local and limited market (with its own hurdles and challenges) to succeed in a short period is not the way the business world functions, according to Financial Tribune.

“Organizing and regulating IRENEX under the sanctions regime is indeed a daunting task and it is highly unlikely to produce the desired results,” he warned. 

It may be an option, but will not make a difference, the news agency quoted him as saying.

Prior to the new round of US sanctions in 2018, NIOC exported 2.5 million barrels of oil per day, earning $60 billion a year.

Selling crude in the local energy exchange and/or with the help of other ways like issuing participatory and Islamic bonds (Sukuk) can generate 5% of that amount ($60 billion) in the best case scenario, he stressed. In short, such stopgap solutions can neither help nor contribute to decent economic growth, the senior economist said.

Referring to the petrochemical sector, he concurred that it is doing well, but wild fluctuations in local currency markets have always been a major deterrent and “only those with special (political) links” and involved in rent-seeking are successful in such closed markets controlled by mafia-like organizations. “There are no such financial or political constraints in the international markets.”

Unlike Abdoh Tabrizi, other energy experts including Masoud Karbasian, managing director of NIOC, say the new policy is working and the state-owned firm raised $700 million in revenues by selling oil and petroleum byproducts via IRENEX in the past eight months.


Iran oil Energy exchange IRENEX Stopgap Solution international market local energy markets long-term basis