DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates, which has a history of talking tough on Iran while still buying its oil, appears to be taking steps to comply with looming U.S. sanctions against the Islamic Republic’s energy industry.
Dubai is the U.A.E.’s main importer of Iranian oil. The country’s biggest city buys a light oil called condensate that’s produced in Iran’s natural gas fields and refines it into jet fuel and other products for local use. The U.A.E. port of Fujairah, the Middle East’s biggest oil-trading hub, provides storage for Iranian fuel oil that supplies vessels plying the Indian Ocean.
Both export streams may be at risk for Iran when U.S. sanctions take effect on Nov. 4. Condensate shipments to Dubai’s government-owned refiner Emirates National Oil Co. already dropped by half in September, according to Bloomberg tanker-tracking data. U.A.E. customs officials have started to require oil tankers docking at Fujairah’s fuel terminal to provide a certificate attesting to the origin of their cargoes, according to people with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified because the information is confidential.
“The U.A.E. could be looking to tightly police the cargoes entering and leaving its port, ahead of the deadline for U.S. sanctions on Iran,” said Den Syahril, a senior analyst at industry consultant FGE in Singapore.