Does Iran truly have a “Plan B” allowing it to shut down its oilfields and still go on?
Since the summer, Iran’s oil exports have plunged because of western-led sanctions intended to halt its enrichment of uranium. Its exports fell to 860,000 barrels a day last month compared with 2.2 million barrels a day at the end of last year, according to the International Energy Agency. Reuters estimates that, at $110 a barrel, Iran earned $95 million a day in September, compared with $247 million a day last year.
There is a push for even tighter sanctions, but an Iranian official said Oct. 23 that the country will stop exporting oil entirely if that happens. Oil minister Rostam Qasemi told reporters in Dubai that Iran will survive. “We have prepared a plan to run the country without any oil revenues. So far to date we haven’t had any serious problems, but if the sanctions were to be renewed we would go for ‘Plan B’,” he said.
Is Iran likely to take this step? Already the value of the rial has plummeted. Iran has an estimated $100 billion in foreign currency reserves, but public protests broke out in Tehran early this month under the strain of the sanctions. Since political survival is the key objective of every government on the planet, a Plan B that involves tightening the public purse even further is hard to imagine.
In fact, Iran’s Plan B is reminiscent of this clip from Blazing Saddles, the 1974 Mel Brooks film (and from which the above still is taken):