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Highlights

Treasury sanctions four companies, State sanctions three

Move follows new sanctions on Iranian sectors after Iraq strike

China remains largest buyer of Iranian crude

Washington — The US Thursday sanctioned petrochemical and petroleum companies based in Hong Kong, Dubai and Shanghai for their roles in facilitating hundreds of millions of dollars in crude oil, petrochemical and refined product exports from the National Iranian Oil Company.

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"Iran's petroleum and petrochemical industries are major sources of revenue for the Iranian regime and fund its malign activities throughout the Middle East," the US Treasury Department said in a statement. "The entities targeted today facilitate Iran's petrochemical and petroleum exports in contravention of US economic sanctions."

The sanctions were imposed on Triliance Petrochemical Co., a Hong Kong-based broker which ordered the transfer of millions of dollars in payments to NIOC for Iranian petrochemical, crude and petroleum products shipped to the UAE and China in 2019.

"In facilitating these shipments, Triliance worked to conceal the Iranian origin of these products," Treasury said. "Triliance has also facilitated the sale of millions of dollars' worth of petroleum products involving Naftiran Intertrade Company, a subsidiary of NIOC, to companies in China."

Treasury also sanctioned Hong Kong-based Sage Energy, Shanghai-based Peakview, and Dubai-based Beneathco DMCC for ordering the equivalent of millions of dollars to NIOC for exports from Iran after US sanctions waivers expired in May.

In late 2018, Beneathco also offered to help NIOC hide the origin of Iranian products destined for the UAE, Treasury said.

In a related move, the US State Department announced Thursday that it was sanctioning Triliance, Chinese company Shandong Qiwangda Petrochemical Co., and Hong Kong entity Jiaxiang Industry Hong Kong Limited for a "significant transaction" of petrochemical products from Iran. State also announced sanctions on Ali Bayandarian, Triliance's managing director, and Zhiqing Wang, Shandong Qiwangda's chairman and legal representative.

"As long as the Iranian regime continues to exploit revenue from its petroleum and petrochemical industries to fund destabilizing activities, we will sanction any entity or individual that facilitates such trade," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Thursday.

Earlier this month, the US announced new sanctions against Iranian officials and the country's construction, manufacturing, textiles, and mining sectors in response to Iranian strikes on US bases in Iraq.

In June, Treasury designated Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company, Iran's largest petrochemical holding group, for providing financial support to the engineering conglomerate of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

China Purchases

Despite US sanctions, which have intensified following Iran's strike in Iraq, China remains the largest buyer of Iranian crude.

In recent months, a large share of Iranian oil flowing to China has been going via the UAE and Malaysia, both of which are popular hubs for ship-to-ship transfers, according to sources.

Iranian crude and condensate exports to China averaged around 225,000 b/d in the second half of 2019 compared to 400,000 b/d in the first half, according to Platts estimates. In 2018, Iran exported around 650,000 b/d of oil to China, according to S&P Global Platts cFlow data and shipping sources.