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Julian Lee

Dirty Russian Oil Has Made a Fragile Market Worse

It was always going to be tough for OPEC to make up for reduced Iranian exports. A loss of Russian flows could make it nearly impossible.

Don’t expect a lot of pumping from Iran.

Don’t expect a lot of pumping from Iran.

Photographer: Ali Mohammadi/Bloomberg

President Donald Trump wants to strangle the Iranian economy and keep gas prices low for American drivers. The discovery that Russia has been exporting contaminated crude oil means any hopes that he could do both have all but evaporated.

Trump decided this month not to renew waivers that let countries buy Iranian oil without violating his sanctions, affecting eight nations that have exemptions expiring on May 2. This drove crude prices higher at a time when gasoline prices were already rising. Gas is up by nearly 30 percent since the start of the year and is now within 10 cents of last year’s peak, before America’s summer driving season has even started.