Iran’s crude customers imported just 838,000 b/d from the Islamic Republic in November as swingeing US sanctions entered effect early in the month (MEES, 9 November 2018). The November figure was the second lowest in decades, and December shipments were likely lower still.

Though the US belatedly issued eight countries with six-month sanctions ‘waivers’ (MEES, 16 November 2018), to a large extent this came too late for potential buyers to arrange late-2018 shipments....