According to today’s Stratfor report, Iranian oil is being stockpiled in large amounts in tankers here and there in and around Iran. The claim from Tehran is that its an attempt to drive prices up and basically cause discomfort to the west. None of the numbers add up for this claim however and a more likely reason is because like Venezuela, the quality of the crude from these sites simply isn’t good enough to get a high dollar value.
Moreover, Iran is highly unlikely to follow through with its threats of dropping crude output. The Iranians are already producing oil at capacity at 4.02 million barrels per day (bpd). With the Iranian oil sector accounting for approximately 80 percent of Iran’s total exports
(with 12 percent of the country’s gross domestic product absorbed in energy subsidies),
the country cannot afford to cut production and absorb the loss in income.
Despite being the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, Iran is also the world’s second-largest
importer of gasoline due to its faltering refining sector; and it is a major food importer.
With food prices and inflation rising, Iran is all the more dependent on its oil revenues
to maintain internal political stability, and it would be shooting itself in the foot
if it took the hit of cutting its oil output.
Given the internal instability of Iran’s own ethnic mix and its near total dependence on oil revenues (Iran is a large scale net importer of both gasoline and food stuffs) one begins to understand the constant hyperbole from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad towards the west and Israel.
Specifically, the idea that a populist leader needs to constantly focus his peoples attention on some evil in or outside of his nation to avoid people placing the blame where it really ought to go. However, food shortages which we begin to see all over the world in nations that do not have their agricultural act together cannot easily be dismissed by rantings of leaders.
The optimists tend to think that with a little encouragement the government of Iran will fall to a western friendly freedom minded youth within Iran. Its true that Iran has had revolutions before and has seen massive changes in its political culture so on the surface this looks good. However Islamists tend not to go away from power easily. The second and more likely scenario would be one of major confrontation with an enemy it has sold its own people on with enough force that they can be convinced that their hardships are the fault of the demon west, Zionists and by clear extension Jews.
Like North Korea and Pakistan among others, Iran has invested in a Porsche weapons program with a Kraft Dinner budget. Nuclear weapons are a top end product. Nations build these ideally when they have all other spheres of their economies in good order.
One has to wonder what measures Iran will take when it sees the folly of its own poor planning come home to roost.