A fire broke out at Iran’s largest container shipping port, setting off explosions as oil products perpetuated the blaze, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.
The fire broke out in the facility at the port used for storing oil products.
Iran’s Shahid Rajaee port on the Gulf Coast is North of the Strait of Hormuz—a critical chokepoint for oil tankers traveling to a variety of destinations.
INRA reported that the blaze was currently under control per local officials, but that due to the flammable nature of the oil products near the blaze, it is possible that fires will flare up again.
The port is critical for Iran, handling 39 percent of all cargo transit in Iran as of 2017, including oil product shipments.
Iran’s crude oil exports remain in the spotlight as the United States appears steadfast in its resolve to bring the sanction nation’s oil exports to zero. Oil exports from Iran have fallen to 400,000 barrels per day in May due to the sanctions, which is significantly down from April. In April 2018, Iran exported 2.5 million bpd of crude oil—a far cry from today’s 400,000 bpd.
Reports have surfaced, however, suggesting that this 400,000 bpd might be lower in reality, as Iran attempts to circumvent Washington’s sanctions by turning off transponders, making it impossible to track Iran’s shipments and calculate the total exported. Iran has long insisted that the United States will be unable to bring its exports to zero.
Today’s fire could provide some cover for Iran on that point, should oil flows drop further this month.
Signs are emerging that the Trump administration may be willing to sit down to the negotiating table with Iran over the nuclear deal with “no preconditions”, showing that the US may be willing to set aside its previous list of demands.