TEHRAN, Iran 

In a strategic move to neutralize the impact of US sanctions on oil shipments overseas, Iran on Thursday inaugurated an oil terminal in the Sea of Oman, bypassing the restive Strait of Hormuz.

The long-awaited $2 billion project, which will allow Iran to export oil directly from the Sea of Oman, had faced impediments and delays due to sanctions imposed by the former US administration.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani termed the new oil terminal as an “important step” for his sanctions-battered country, which he said will “secure the continuation of our oil exports”.

“The first shipment of 100 tons of crude oil is being loaded today outside the Strait of Hormuz,” Rouhani said during the inauguration ceremony. “This shows the US sanctions (on Iran) have failed.”

Rouhani said Tehran aims to ship 1 million barrels (of oil) per day (bpd) from the Port of Jask, which will be an alternative to Kharg terminal inside the Strait of Hormuz.

The new facility on the Makran coast, equipped with three pipelines, can export heavy crude, light crude, and gas condensate, according to officials.

It is the first time in the 110-year history of Iran’s oil industry that oil exports will take place outside the Strait of Hormuz, according to Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh.

The newly-built pipeline stretches from Goureh oil terminal in Iran’s southwestern province of Bushehr to the Jask terminal, bypassing the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow channel at the entrance of the Persian Gulf, which has seen frequent confrontations between the naval forces of Iran and the US.

Nearly a third of world’s oil trade goes through this volatile channel, with shipments moving from the oil-rich Middle East to Asia, Europe, North America and beyond.

The work on the 100-km pipeline and the oil terminal in Jask, carried out by Iran’s Petroleum Ministry, began in June 2020, at a time of heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington.

Rouhani, whose second term in office ends in two weeks, had vowed to make it operational before he leaves the office.

The outgoing president also fired a parting salvo at the conservative-controlled parliament, with which he has shared a difficult relationship since last year.

He said his administration did everything to have the US sanctions lifted, but the law passed by the country’s parliament last year created hurdles in his path.

“If the parliament law had not stopped us, we would have lifted the sanctions almost before Nowruz (Iranian New Year on March 21),” he said, referring to the law that called for increasing uranium enrichment to 20 percent, as a counter-measure to the US sanctions, which has now jumped to 60 percent.

Rouhani’s reformist administration had initially opposed the parliament’s bill but had to implement it after it became a law, escalating tensions both at home and abroad.

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