Accueil > Articles in English > IRAN : WHAT IS BEHIND VITOL’S EMBARGO


On Monday 7 March, Vitol Company, whose capital is British and which is Iran’s most important fuel supplier, announced via the Financial Times its decision to “halt to the deliveries” to the mullahs “because of the American sanctions” -according to FT. However, no sanction exists so far and Obama has dismissed expressly any resort to embargo on fuel. In such context, such announcement runs counter to Obama’s wish. | Decoding |

The impact of such cut | Iran, one of the world’s oil main supplier, was before a much important fuel exporter because it disposed of the world’s largest refineries in Abadan. But it’s not the case anymore for a long time because Abadan refineries were destroyed during Iran-Iraq war and the regime didn’t invest in their reconstruction. The situation results in the fact that during the Islamic revolution, the national Iranian oil company was shared among several clans on power and they stopped any extraction in order to favour the sale of extraction concessions to foreign States and this excluded the necessity to invest into infrastructures that would be proper to Iran. Such choice which was inspired by the clans’ personal profit has caused some income drop and know-how loss.

Nowadays, such management mistakes are being felt much sorely by the mullahs at a time when Washington carries on a war of economic attrition against them in order to force them to become its Islamist allies in Central Asia without obtaining in exchange any compensation that would be contrary to American interests in the Middle-East. Our mullahs are realizing belatedly that they lack definitely of currency reserves, of equipment and of know-how, which explains they can’t be autonomous. Right now, they have no other choice but importing fuel, which constitutes the implicit confession that they are vulnerable. Their present sole mean to reduce such vulnerability is to pretend that they are even less dependant. That’s why, so to have a fair idea of such vulnerability, we need to come back to 2005, i.e. before the first embargo threats Washington uttered. This precise year, the mullahs but Americans as well told about a yearly import of 24 billions litres of fuel, that is to say 65 millions daily, i.e. 75% of Iranian -current- domestic consumption. So this made such an embargo appear as a fatal weapon against the regime.

We cannot find anymore such figure into mullahs’ statements. It also disappeared from American media statements. The mullahs’ dependency is from now on up to 30% which implies that an embargo would have no consequence on their fate. This is due to the fact that Washington, which needs the mullahs to reach Central Asia or to use its Muslim inhabitants against China, has used the threat of a fatal embargo as a powerful mean of intimidation against them but without any intention to take action. However it used to ask some providers to slower deliveries but this turned too dangerous because this regime which is perceived as an ally that can’t be ignored became too fragile owing to sanctions weight and it might collapse and make way to a laic regime that would be against American interests. This explains the necessity to pretend by all possible means that the embargo has no impact on this regime.

V as Vitol | However although the figure was changed, reality remained the same. Tehran is still dependant up to 75% on its foreign suppliers. Among them, there’s Vitol, a much discreet company which the Financial Times introduces as a company with Swiss origin. However when it was taken to courts by an Iranian, it was presented as a Knightsbridge-based British company. In 2007, while Washington wasn’t yet following a strategy of freeze of its own sanctions against Tehran so to avoid the regime’s collapse, it imposed some pressures on this company and obtained its withdrawal from the Iranian market. At that time, Washington revealed that this company has provided for years 15 of the 24 billion fuel litres that were imported yearly by Tehran, i.e. 63% of the volume of 75% of Iranian domestic consumption. In other words, it represents 50% of the whole fuel which is used in Iran. Thus the end of its deliveries represents a kind of embargo against the mullahs !

A concerted action | According to the same article of the Financial Times, Vitol thus joined other suppliers such as Glencore and Trafigura -two other furtive British companies- as well as British Petroleum which already stopped their deliveries to Iran few months before. De facto, this appears as some concerted British embargo. This is a much severe blow for the mullahs. But given that the Americans are doing their best to avoid Tehran’s weakening, we may assess that such concerted action is an action against American interests. The reason is very simple : if Washington manages to control the mullahs, its oil companies will seize the Iranian market and terrorize every of their competitors in Central Asia or in Caucasus by using the fundamentalists the mullahs will train. Shortly after, it may deprive both great British oil companies, Shell and BP, from their rank of oil market world leaders since 1906 in order to win a war which was started among both States in 1930 owing to the American seizure of the Saudi market via a gigantic bribe that was paid to Harry St. John Philby, a British agent and the king’s adviser in a country the British created to help themselves.

Later, such war was brought to Iran where British had taken command on oil market with the blessing of the Shiite clergy which was financed by the United Kingdom. The Americans supported the nationalization of the Iranian oil in order to hunt the British out. Then they imitated them by making plans to balkanize the country and its Central Asian neighbours which were yet Soviet countries via a revolution that would make Islamic-federalists of their own take the power in Iran. As roles were inverted, thus the British supported their protégés, the mullahs, against Washington in order cut any access to Central Asia. However, the mullahs are quite weakened today and they may give in. In order to avoid the catastrophic seizure of the region by the Americans, London, the historical protector of the mullahs, distinguished itself by following Washington’s opposite strategy and it announced it in its most prestigious daily newspaper in order to prompt Washington to adopt the sanctions it wants to avoid.

Shortly before, the British published a false document that mentioned the existence of some first Iranian atomic bomb in order to play the same trick : drag Washington into sanctions it wants to avoid.

As it was faced with such brilliant but hopeless first media offensive, Washington side stepped by declaring it would make an investigation, a way to bury such affair. This time, London went further with this punctual embargo via Vitol’s temporary halt. Faced with such incredible blow which denotes a severe danger for the British, the United States made an article be published in the much serious New York Times which dealt with its inability to impose its own sanctions against Tehran because of its wish to avoid any requirement from the American public opinion to follow the British good example. This is a total war… London will need to go further.

The french version of this article :
- Iran : Ce que cache l’embargo de Vitol
- (10 MARS 2010)

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| Mots Clefs | Pays : Grande-Bretagne |
| Mots Clefs | Enjeux : Sanctions Ciblées en cours d’application |

| Mots Clefs | Décideurs : OBAMA |
| Mots Clefs | Enjeux : Apaisement |

| Mots Clefs | Enjeux : Pétrole & Gaz |

| Mots Clefs | Instituions : Economie iranienne |