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Oil Climbs From Four-Week Low as Iran Warns of Hormuz Supply Disruption

Grant Smith, Bloomberg
Oil climbed from the lowest price in almost four weeks as Iran said that a disruption to crude supplies through the Strait of Hormuz would cause a shock to markets that “no country” could manage.
(16 January 2012)

India to pay for Iran crude in rupees

Press TV (Iran)
In the wake of the US decision to impose fresh sanctions against the Islamic Republic that would target its oil exports, India announces plans to pay for the Iranian crude it imports in rupees.

A senior Indian government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the issue will be addressed when a multi- disciplinary team visits Tehran on January 16 to discuss uninterrupted supply from the major oil producer, the Press Trust of India reported on Sunday.

Under the proposal, the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) will open a rupee account with Indian banks, and can use the money to purchase non-strategic commodities like railway imports.

India satisfies about three-quarters of its crude demands through imports; and Iran is its second-largest supplier after Saudi Arabia.

The South Asian country currently pays USD 1 billion every month to Iran for the 370,000 barrels per day of crude oil it purchases from the Islamic Republic. India uses Turkey as a conduit in order to pay for Iranian crude.

India has been looking for an alternative payment mechanism for crude from Iran after the Reserve Bank of India in December 2010 announced that payments for Iranian crude oil imports would have to be settled outside the existing Asian Clearing Union (ACU) mechanism.
(8 January 2012)
Commentary: What’s Really Going On In The Straits Of Hormuz by by David Malone

Iran Hype undermined by Obama Administration Admissions

Juan Cole, Informed Comment
The announcement of the Iranian government that it will activate its Fordow nuclear enrichment site has predictably drawn forth a new round of war propaganda from the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In contrast, the Chinese media accurately report Iran’s affirmation that the new site will be subject to UN inspections and so is perfectly legal.

Ironically, what Clinton says is diametrically opposite from the repeated assurances given by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, that Iran is not trying to construct a nuclear warhead. True, he put it in a misleading way, saying that Iran “is not yet building a bomb,” as though it is only a matter of time. But in order to build a bomb, Iran would have to deny access to UN inspectors and, well, initiate a program to build a bomb. That it has not done so is covered up in mainstream US political and journalistic discourse, to the point where the NYT had to apologize for stating (contrary to Panetta) that Iran has a nuclear weapons program (it does not, as far as anyone can tell).

And now, it turns out, the Obama administration is even willing to admit the truth. The sanctions regime on Iran is not even primarily about the civilian nuclear enrichment program (to which Iran has a right under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), but about causing the regime to collapse. (Apparently the appearance in print with its admission of illegal motives provoked a sharp set of phone calls and a revision of the statement to merely a collapse of the nuclear program. I believe WaPo got it right the first time.)

I think blockading a civilian population for the purpose of instituting regime change in a state toward which no authorization of force has been issued by the UN Security Council may well be a war crime. Even advocating a war crime can under some circumstances be punishable, as happened at the Nuremberg trials.

Unlike Israel (Egypt 1956, 1967; Lebanon 1982, 2006) or the US (Iraq 2003), Iran has not unilaterally attacked a nation that had not attacked it, and Iran has not occupied other states’ territory. Both Israel and the US have stockpiles of nuclear warheads. Iran doesn’t have a single one and doesn’t even have a nuclear weapons program. Since Iran has not attacked anyone (and hasn’t done so for over a century), and since the UNSC has not authorized the use of force against Tehran, it would be illegal under the UN Charter for the US or Israel to attack Iran.

Juan Cole is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. For three decades, he has sought to put the relationship of the West and the Muslim world in historical context.
(11 January 2012)

Iran playing war games, but not in video arcades

Matt , Crude Oil Peak
As the world enters year 8 of peak oil with wafer thin spare capacity to offset any supply disruptions, war games around the heart of the Middle East oil supply system are absolutely dangerous. There may be miscalculations one day and the conflict gets out of control. One possible scenario is a stray “test” missile hitting a tanker, for example. We are concerned here with the Iranian oil supply situation:

  • crude oil production has already peaked in 2008
  • crude oil exports have also peaked at the same time
  • petrol consumption has peaked in 2007
  • petrol rationing and price increases as a result of the removal of subsidies has put motorists under pressure with the potential to spark social unrest
  • sanctions in response to Iran’s attempts to develop nuclear weapons have impacted on oil production and the planned expansion of refinery capacities for local consumption

In other words, this situation is unlikely to get better.

Those who know the UK born Australian singer John Paul Young (world hit in 1978: “Love is in the air”) may remember his 1984 song (.mp3, 600 k) War Games which inspired me for the title of this post.

It is advisable to voluntarily get away from oil as fast as possible – to use the words of IEA Chief economist Fatih Birol – “before the oil gets away from us”. That could happen very fast indeed if the ME ends up in a military confrontation. But governments still continue business as usual – shown for example in updated images of the M2 toll-way widening in Sydney at the end of this article.

(1) The situation in the Gulf

This changes daily, but these are recent events:
(6 January 2012