The US and European embargo of Iranian oil is one of the factors behind the stubbornly high price of crude, trumping the huge slump in petroleum demand in the US. Although Iranian oil exports are down 33%, Iran is on a course for its third largest oil-related earnings ever. Thus, the primary beneficiary of high oil prices is Iran.
Rather than blame himself for the absurdity of the situation, president Obama blames oil speculators.
High Oil Prices Shield Iran From Sanctions
The Financial Times reports High Oil Prices Shield Iran From Sanctions.
The Centre for Global Energy Studies (CGES), a London-based think-tank, estimates that Iran will earn $56bn selling its crude this year – its third-highest earnings ever – even after factoring in the loss of roughly a third of its export volume due to sanctions.
Washington has imposed sanctions to penalise foreign financial institutions dealing with Iran’s central bank, while Brussels has approved a full embargo on Iranian crude oil starting formally from July 1.
The western allies are trying to achieve a difficult balance: hurt Iran enough to force it to negotiate over its nuclear programme, but keep enough oil flowing to avoid a price spike that damages the fragile economic recovery.
“The sanctions are not working,” said Olivier Jakob, head of the Swiss-based oil consultancy Petromatrix, in a note to clients. “They are definitely hurting Iran as it limits its [crude oil] exports, but they are also hurting the rest of the world, given that the western powers have not managed to control prices.”
Facing heat for high gasoline prices, President Obama tried to shift the focus to Congress, Republicans and energy traders, calling for legislation that he said would "put more cops on the beat" to crack down on potential manipulation of the oil market.Who is the Real Manipulator?
Obama called on Congress to provide more money for regulators and increase penalties for market manipulators. The president, flanked by Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithnerand Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., suggested that traders and speculators are affecting the price of oil and digging into Americans' pocketbooks.
"We can't afford a situation where some speculators can reap millions while millions of American families get the short end of the stick," Obama said in brief remarks in the Rose Garden on Tuesday. "That's not the way the market should work."