With drilling now limited off the Gulf Coast, oil businesses might have even greater incentive to engage in business elsewhere -- even in Iran. This could provide a great boost to the economy of this rogue regime, unless the U.S. acts to prevent such engagements. Barack Obama and his surrogates first promised "crippling" sanctions, and have now settled on "biting" sanctions. Whatever the semantics, the gas sanctions bill, as Mark Dubowitz writes in the Hill, is needed now:
In the absence of any clear reason not to, energy companies will assess the benefits of Iranian resources and act accordingly. Iran is the world’s fourth-largest producer of crude oil, and at 981 trillion cubic feet, its natural gas reserves are second only to Russia’s. The country already enjoys substantial international leverage thanks to oil. Once it becomes a major exporter of natural gas, it will have exponentially more wealth and power.
Therefore, Dubowitz argues, Congress must pass -- after slight modifications -- the Iranian gas sanctions bill:
The proposed sanctions bill would extend the earlier Iran Sanctions Act. It would give the president authority to sanction foreign companies involved in Iran’s refined petroleum trade, including suppliers, insurers, banks, shippers, investors and providers of technology, services and other expertise.
The bill targets the entire supply chain for gasoline, and thanks to work done in conference committee during the months-long delay, should include language that addresses what had been a major loophole in Iran sanctions law.
According to congressional sources, unlike the original versions passed by the House and Senate, the bill likely will address the supply of critical technology, products, services, support and specialized information required for oil and natural gas projects inside Iran.