Iran looking for solutions to keep oil flowing

Iran's Rouhani makes first official visit to Iraq

Iran warned Wednesday that it will respond firmly to any Israeli action attempting to stop its oil shipments, according to Defense Minister Amir Hatami.

US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, two of the largest oil producers in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, and production cuts by OPEC and Russian Federation have boosted global oil prices to near four-month highs.

US President Donald Trump eventually aims to halt Iranian oil exports and thereby choke off Tehran's main source of revenue.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told naval officers last week that Iran was still resorting to clandestine measures to ship fuel, the Reuters news agency reported.

Amir Hatami was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA that Tehran had the military capabilities to confront any Israeli intervention, and said the global community would also not accept such action.

Hatami told IRNA on Wednesday that this action is considered "banditry" and a threat against global security and Iran will respond to it firmly. India's optimism stems from a series of meetings following a reduction in oil imports from Iran, officials indicated.

On Friday, the navy intervened to repel pirates who attacked an Iranian oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden.

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An Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander also said on Wednesday that enemies will regret any confrontation with the Islamic Republic.

The Trump administration has used the threat of insurance liabilities to pressure countries into blocking Iranian ships.

Mike Salthouse with the International Group, which represents companies that insure about 90 percent of the world's commercial shipping, said Western insurers were very unlikely to do business with Iranian shipping companies.

Renewed U.S. sanctions have also meant Iran has been unable to secure vital certification services from foreign providers to ensure its ships remain seaworthy, shipping officials said. He also threatened to deploy the Israeli Navy to help tackle Iran's alleged efforts to illegally take oil through sea routes to avoid USA sanctions.

Iran was the eighth biggest oil supplier to India in February compared with seventh in January, and slipped from third position it held a year ago, the data showed.

Shipping sources tell Reuters that this time around it will be more hard for Iran to procure ships than it was with the previous round of sanctions due to increased scrutiny and because businesses don't want to be involved in anything linked to Iran for fear of running afoul of the USA sanctions.

Brian Hook, the State Department's special representative on Iran, on March 13 reiterated the US policy, telling an industry conference in Houston that Washington was committed to bringing Iranian crude exports to zero.

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