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US keeps pressing Iran's oil customers to halt imports by November 5

Washington — The US continues to press Iran's oil customers, including China and India, to halt their crude and condensate imports before sanctions resume November 5, a top State Department official told Congress on Thursday.

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Manisha Singh, assistant secretary for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, said the US is prepared to take the "strongest actions possible" against countries that flout the sanctions.

"We are working with all countries including China to get them to zero," Singh testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Iranian crude production fell 200,000 b/d from July to 3.52 million b/d in August as US sanctions loom, and apparent hedging activity indicates some traders are preparing for a potential price spike above $80/b as a result of further declines in Tehran's exports, the Energy Information Administration said Tuesday.

Iran's production has dropped 310,000 b/d since April, EIA said. In May, President Donald Trump announced the US would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Iran's oil buyers.

S&P Global Platts Analytics expects 1.44 million b/d of Iranian crude and condensate to leave the market by November, compared with April levels of 2.91 million b/d. -- Meghan Gordon, meghan.gordon@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Annie Siebert, newsdesk@spglobal.com