Brian Hook, the State Department's director of policy planning, told a news conference that the US goal was to get as many countries as possible down to zero Iranian oil imports. Asked if someone was manipulating oil markets, Trump said: "OPEC is and they better stop it because we're protecting those countries, many of those countries".
"Our focus is on getting as many countries importing Iranian crude down to zero as soon as possible", Hook said.
Iran and Saudi Arabia broke off diplomatic relations in 2016 and are locked in several proxy wars in the Middle East, including in Yemen. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity under State Department ground rules.
"On China, India - yes, certainly".
In a briefing with reporters, that official said Washington probably would not grant waivers from secondary sanctions against foreign companies that continue to do business with Iran. Tehran, however, vowed on Sunday to foil any U.S. bid to block its oil exports. On Wednesday, the WTI slipped to $74.59 per barrel, still one of the highest marks in over three years.
Saudi Arabia has said it is ready to use its spare production capacity in order to help balance the global oil market, according to a Cabinet statement released on Tuesday. "Prices to high! He has agreed!" The Kingdom did not initially confirm Trump's tweets and the White House at first backed away from the comments.
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Norway-based Rystad Energy expects Iranian production to drop by 700,000 bpd by December 2018. This will include allowing private companies to directly export the oil.
Crude oil prices rose on Tuesday with the USA benchmark hitting a four-year high on expected drains in domestic inventories and outages in Libya.
After reducing production by more than 1.8 million barrels daily since January previous year to drain a global glut, the producers decided in Vienna on June 23 to reverse course.
Apart from Iran, Venezuela, Libya and Angola are also facing chronic production issues. Analyst expectations were for a draw of 1 million barrels.
There are also unconfirmed reports of the U.S. using its strategic reserves to send oil lower. It also highlighted that the oil ministry's order to refiners "to prepare for drastic reduction or zero import of Iranian oil from November" was passed a day after United States ambassador to UN Nikki Haley visited India.
"In this battle, any country that tries to take Iran's place on the oil market will be guilty of treason against Iran. and surely one day it will pay the price of this treason", he said.