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Saturday, 18 February 2012

HOW WILL INCREASED IRANIAN SANCTIONS AFFECT SOUTH AFRICA.


Press Release: Oilprice.com
The U.S. new sanctions initiative, strongly supported by Israel, to impose new 
sanctions against Iran, is designed to punish it for its purported covert nuclear
 weapons program by imposing new restrictions on Tehran.
As a result, many of Iran's oil customers are scrambling to avoid collateral
 damage to their economies.
The sanctions' potential fallout is now hitting South Africa, Africa's biggest
 economy, which receives nearly 25 percent of its needs from Iran, roughly
 98,000 barrels per day (bpd), or about 4 percent of Iran's total exports.
South Africa's economy, which has been hit by fuel shortages in the past
 because of strikes and refinery problems, would be hard-pressed to fill
 any gap quickly.
South Africa's Department of Energy director general Nelisiwe Magubane
 said that South Africa had not yet received any formal request from the
 United States to halt or reduce Iranian crude imports following a visit to 
South Africa last week by a senior U.S. energy official but added that,
 as most South African refineries are designed to treat Iranian crude and
 that any adjustment to handle other crudes would involve a financial cost,
 telling reporters, "We have said let's work on a worst case scenario. In
 other words, let's just assume that we cannot get anything out of Iran or
 at a reduced rate, what is going to be the impact?"
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA),South Africa 
is Iran's ninth largest export market, after China (543,000 bpd), India
 (341,000 bpd) Japan (251,000 bpd, South Korea (239,000 bpd), Turkey
 (217,000 bpd), Italy (204,000 bbd), Spain (170,000 bpd) and Greece
 (158,000 bpd.)
Within these figures however is the issue of how much Iranian crude
 represents in terms of a country's total percent of imports, and South
 Africa is only exceeded by Greece (53.1 percent) and Turkey (30.6 percent).
The U.S. administration has been assiduously involved in discussions to shield
 nations that sign on-board for increased sanctions to obviate the effects on
 them. Last week U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman said 
during his visit to South Africa that Washington had been in talks with all
 oil importers to find alternatives to Iranian supply and would work to avoid
 price rises.
U.S. South African embassy spokesman Elizabeth Trudeau told journalists,
 "We ... are working with oil consuming countries to help them respond to
 the new legislation and find alternatives to energy supplies from Iran.
" Regarding the U.S. presence in South Africa Trudeau added that a
 representative of the U.S. Treasury was in Pretoria, commenting, "The 
Treasury official met representatives of private business in South Africa,
 including members of the banking industry, as well as officials from the
 South African government," adding that the meetings were "part of our
 ongoing dialogue with countries around the world on the implications and 
implementation of the sanctions legislation."
However, even if South African refineries could locate alternative sources of
 crude oil, it would involve a substantial cost to them, which, according to
 South African Department of Energy Director General Nelisiwe Magubane, 
are designed to process lighter grades of oil, such as those from Iran. 
Magubane estimated that the cost to alter South African refineries to utilize
 other grades of crude would exceed $44 million.
South African-Iranian ties have a long, deep and complex history. During
 South Africa's white apartheid regime Iran supported the African National
 Congress resistance when it was an anti-apartheid movement, but Tehran
 played both sides of the fence, as it also supplied oil to the white minority
 government both before and after the Shah's overthrow by the Islamic regime
 led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in February 1979.
History aside, South Africa could provide a unique opportunity for settling the
 Iranian nuclear debate, should the UN Security Council decide to avail itself 
of Pretoria's services.
South Africa is the only nation in the world to have voluntarily surrendered an 
incipient nuclear weapons program and now maintains that all countries should
 have the right to develop peaceful nuclear energy. South Africa has both
 uranium reserves and its own civilian nuclear power program. Seeking to build
 on its twin heritage of civilian and military nuclear endeavors, last week South 
African Foreign Affairs department spokesman Clayson Monyela said that
 South Africa has informed Iran that it is ready to help any nation that wants 
to follow its lead and give up nuclear weapons.
It is a concept worth pursuing as an alternative to war, as all five members 
of the UN Security Council possess nuclear arsenals as well as civilian 
nuclear programs. Perhaps the UN Security Council should consider listening 
to the advice of a nation that produced a Nobel Peace Prize winner rather
 than dictating.
And South Africa? Quite aside from the diplomatic laurels it would gather,
 it would save the funds needed to retool its refineries.
A win-win situation.
By. John C.K. Daly of Oilprice.com