.'Oil refiners have stopped buying oil from Iran,' was the headline today. Well, really just on the spot market. Two thirds of the Iranian oil that refiners buy is on long term contract, and they won’t give that up unless forced to by an EU embargo. China continues to buy oil and doesn’t accept anybody else’s opinion on the matter. They have been buying less Iranian oil lately, but this is reportedly because of a pricing dispute. Since 2/3 of Iran’s oil goes to the far east, it sounds like Iran’s only problem is getting full price. The price is going up, thanks to the US pressure on countries to not buy from Iran, so they could end up getting just as much for their oil as now, or more.
Iran’s biggest problem is really the threats made by the US against any foreign bank that does business with Iran’s banks. The banks who do so would be prohibited from doing business in the US, and this could make it hard for Iran to get paid for its oil. This could, in theory, include those huge Chinese banks in lower Manhattan. Obama might as well threaten the king of the moon. China will pay as much attention.