Small independent Chinese refineries are behind the surge in Iran’s oil revenues, says an advocacy group that works to expose those who help Tehran evade economic sanctions.
The Washington Free Beacon cited information obtained by United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI) to reveal a network of Chinese petrochemical refiners, or "teapots," behind the upswing in illicit Iranian crude oil trade, saying they provided the Islamic Republic with at least $22 billion in revenue since President Joe Biden took office.
These Chinese private firms, which are not state-controlled, are primarily responsible for "funding this illicit and uniquely lucrative trade" with Iran, the report said, adding records seen by the UANI detailed at least 40 different shipments of Iranian oil to China dating back to 2019.
The information about small refiners buying Iranian oil is not new but the details in UANI’s report shed further light on the illicit trade.
"Since the US has in fact sanctioned Chinese state-owned imports in the past, such as Zhuhai Zhenrong, the decision to import Iranian oil via dozens of small unaffiliated ‘non-state' firms helps obscure the Chinese government's role and protect its own big firms from scrutiny, accountability, and attendant sanctions," a brief issued said.
Earlier in the year, Bloomberg said teapot refineries have benefited from Washington’s sanctions on Iran and Venezuela because they bargain for more discounts while other buyers have stopped purchases in fear of the US financial system freezing their assets.