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Iran's supreme leader escalates calls for an Islamic oil embargo on Israel


Khamenei urges stop to 'economic cooperation' with Israel

Israel imports 300,000 b/d, half from Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan

OPEC officials have rebuffed suggestions of oil embargo so far

  • Author
  • Aresu Eqbali
  • Editor
  • Alisdair Bowles
  • Commodity
  • Oil

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Nov. 1 urged Islamic states to stop exporting oil to Israel, as Tehran continues to appeal to its fellow OPEC members to retaliate over escalating hostilities in Gaza.

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"What the Islamic governments should insist on is an immediate halt of these crimes they are doing in Gaza and the bombings," Khamenei said, according to state media. "They should block ways of oil and food stuff exports to the Zionist regime. They, the Islamic states, should not carry out economic cooperation with the Zionist regime."

The comments, which came after an Oct. 31 air strike on a refugee camp in northern Gaza that Israel said was aimed at Hamas militants, echo those made by Iran's foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, on Oct. 18 following a deadly hospital explosion in the Palestinian territory.

Amir-Abdollahian's call for an Islamic oil embargo on Israel was immediately downplayed by several OPEC officials, who said the organization did not wish to politicize its oil exports.

At any rate, any such embargo would be largely symbolic. Israel holds almost no domestic oil production and has been importing about 300,000 b/d of crude to process at its two refineries in Haifa and Ashdod.

Roughly half of the volumes comprise Kazakh-sourced CPC Blend crude exported via Russia's Black Sea port of Novorossiisk and Azeri Light shipped from Azerbaijan through Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, according to data from S&P Global Commodities at Sea.

Although largely secular, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan are both members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation which refers to itself as the "collective voice of the Muslim world" to "safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world."

They are also non-OPEC members of the wider OPEC+ coalition, which is due to meet Nov. 26 in Vienna.

Israel had also previously sourced a portion of its crude from Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdistan region, but all Iraqi flows via Ceyhan have been suspended due to an ongoing legal spat involving Ankara, Baghdad and Erbil.

Other sources of crude for Israel include OPEC members Gabon and Nigeria, as well as Brazil and Egypt.

Besides crude, Israel also imports about 50,000 b/d of refined products, mostly from India and the US.

Analysts say any lost volumes due to an Islamic embargo would likely be readily replaced from other suppliers.