Iran's Oil Threat, "Deja Vu, All Over Again"

Where is Yogi Berra when we need him? There is Iran going back to its old game plan, threatening to ban oil exports. This time shipments of oil to Europe in its head-to-head with European consumers who are readying their own import embargo on deliveries of Iranian oil, given the standoff on Iran's nuclear program.

In retaliation, Iran's Parliament is now working on a plan to stop Iran's ongoing oil exports to Europe forthwith in retaliation for Europe's embargo scheduled to become effective July 1st.

"Europe will burn in the fire of Iran's oil wells" -- threatening words from Nasser Soudani, a member of the Iranian Parliament's energy committee. Mr. Soudani continued: "All European countries that made Iran the target of their sanctions will not be able to buy one drop of oil from Iran."

The rant has the same tonality as that of Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who treated the world to a similar proclamation in June 2006, then directed mostly at the United States, threatening to curtail energy flows from the region. At the time Khamenei delivered his threats from a podium emblazoned with the words of his predecessor, Ayatollah Khomeini, "America Cannot Do A Damn Thing."

To repeat observations made then that hold true today: the International Energy Agency continues to hold some 4.1 billion barrels of strategic and commercial reserves, including the 700 plus million barrels in the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and more than 300 million barrels in commercial reserves in the U.S. as well.

Iran's current exports of oil to Europe are some 425,000 bbls/day or 155 mmbbls/year. A figure easily made available from standby strategic and commercial reserves.

In addition there are the assurances by the Gulf oil producers that they will make up the Iranian shortfall. Saudi Arabia, while producing 9.8 million bbls/day currently, has a spare production capacity of 2 million bbls/day on standby as Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister was quoted on CNN: "We can easily get up to 11.8 million bbls a day, almost immediately, in a few days", and one can assume that another up to a million barrels can be brought on stream in short order.

Iran's total daily export loadings are some 2,000,000 bbls/day plus. What with strategic and commercial reserves in place, and with the significant additional production capability available from the Gulf Oil States (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, U.A.E., etc) one can say:

Sorry Yogi, this time "It IS over BEFORE its over"