U.S. grants eight countries Iran sanctions waivers

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Sources in New Delhi said that India is close to a deal with the U.S. that will allow it to continue buying crude oil from Iran without attracting any sanction after it agreed to cut imports and escrow payments.

The administration official told Bloomberg that waivers were aimed at preventing oil price hikes and would be granted in exchange for continued import cuts. Countries seeking waivers - in a process similar to that under former President Barack Obama - are expected to agree to substantially reduce their Iranian oil imports.

Under the law, the USA president must periodically issue a "determination" on whether there is sufficient supply in the market from non-Iranian sources for countries to significantly cut their Iranian purchases.

Iran began selling crude oil to private companies for export on Sunday, part of a strategy to counter the planned sanctions.

Goldman Sachs said it expects Iran's crude oil exports to fall to 1.15 million bpd by the end of the year, down from around 2.5 million bpd in mid-2018.

"We will continue to discuss our Iran policy with our counterparts around the world and the implications of our re-imposition of sanctions previously lifted or waivered under the JCPOA", he said. Iran supplied 18.4 million tonnes of crude oil between April 2017 and January 2018 (first 10 months of fiscal 2017-18).

China - the leading importer of Iranian oil - is still in discussions with the USA on terms, but is among the eight, according to two people familiar with the discussions who also asked not to be identified.

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Iran said on Friday the report on waivers showed that the market needed the country's crude.

A Chinese official told Reuters that discussions with the USA government were ongoing and that a result was expected over the next couple of days. "I don't know whether these waivers are permanent or temporary", state TV quoted Iran's Deputy Oil Minister Ali Kardor as saying.

According to the Iranian Oil Ministry, 60 percent of the country's oil exports go to Asian countries, including China and India - the two top clients - as well as South Korea and Japan, and the remaining 40 percent to European countries including Turkey.

"The US may use waivers to slow-walk implementation, but these will not apply indefinitely", Allen said. The United Arab Emirates imports large amounts of Iranian fuel oil to power ships and Egypt imports oil from Iran for the Sumed pipeline.

"We want to achieve maximum pressure, but we don't want to harm friends and allies either", Bolton told the Hamilton Society in Washington on October 31, signalling a possible softening of the White House's demand that all countries reduce their Iranian oil imports to "zero".

Russian Federation has been planning to import oil from Tehran but no major projects have materialized.

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