According to Reuters, the US will likely lift sanctions within days on units of Chinese tanker company COSCO that Washington accused of transporting Iranian oil, two industry sources said.
A source with a major Chinese oil company said they had received indications that COSCO had been taken off the US sanctions list. The Chinese energy industry was waiting for official communications from Washington, the source said.
Another energy industry source in London said that Washington had indicated it would soon lift the sanctions.
The administration of US President Donald Trump blacklisted the Dalian units of COSCO on Sept. 25 in a move that pushed global freight costs to record highs and disrupted shipping markets.
The Dalian COSCO units only have about 40 tankers, but Washington’s move led to confusion about whether sanctions applied to the parent company’s fleet of more than 1,000 ships.
The Treasury Department had twice issued waivers to allow companies to wind down dealings with the COSCO units, the latest of which is set to expire on Feb. 4, but shipping markets were still unnerved.
China is a major importer of Iranian oil despite Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Tehran that includes cutting Iran’s oil revenue to zero. Trump began re-imposing sanctions on Iran’s vital oil exports after he unilaterally pulled the United States from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.
Meanwhile, Iran has slammed the US and its allies for using oil as a political weapon to put more economic pressure on the Islamic Republic, emphasizing, however, that Washington will never be able to achieve its dream of cutting Tehran’s oil exports to zero.