Oil Market Effects from U.S. Economic Sanctions: Iran, Russia, Venezuela


Economic sanctions imposed by the United States—through enacted legislation and executive action—on Iran, Russia, and Venezuela aim to pressure the ruling governments to change their behavior and policies. Currently, these sanctions aim to either eliminate (Iran) or restrict (Venezuela) crude oil trade of as much as 3.3 million to 4.0 million barrels per day (bpd), roughly 3%-4% of global petroleum supply.

Estimated oil production volumes affected to date have been approximately 1.7 million bpd from Iran.

Venezuela oil production has also likely been affected, although accurately quantifying volumes is difficult due to monthly oil production declines over a period of years prior to U.S. sanctions affecting oil trade in January 2019.

Sanctions imposed on Russia’s oil sector generally target longer-term oil production and to date have not reduced Russian oil supply or trade. Oil production in Russia has increased since oil-sector sanctions began in 2014, although the country has arguably incurred economic costs in order to incentivize and support oil output levels.

Sanctions-related oil supply constraints have affected oil production and trade. Oil market characteristics—generally inelastic supply and demand in the short term—could contribute to market conditions that could result in volatile price movements (both up and down) when supply and demand are imbalanced by as little as 1% to 2% for a brief or sustained period. To date, persistently high crude oil prices have been moderated by several factors, including increasing U.S. oil production and exports, trade flow adjustments, expectations of slowing demand growth rates, and sanctions design elements. However, oil trade sanctions have affected price differentials for certain crude oil types (e.g., light vs. heavy).   Purchase this report.