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Iran and the oil price

来源:FT中文网    2018-01-05 07:47

        What does the spread of street protests across Iran mean for the oil market? The immediate response, driven no doubt by the substantial amounts of speculative money that are in play, is likely to be an upward spike. But although the troubles are serious and fuelled by real hardship in a struggling economy, there is no objective justification for any increase. If anything, the demonstrations can be seen as the prelude to a fall in prices.        街头抗议在伊朗各地蔓延对石油市场来说意味着什么?毫无疑问,由于大量投机资金的作用,最直接的反应可能是油价上涨。但是,尽管目前的问题很严重,且处于困境中的伊朗经济存在实实在在的困难、使得境况愈发严峻,但并没有客观理由来支撑油价上涨。真要说的话,示威活动倒可以被视为油价下跌的前奏。
        The first point in support of this argument is that the protests are based in the country's cities and towns and not, so far, in the oil-producing regions. The disturbances in the southern port of Bandar Abbas are serious but there has been no report of any trouble near the Abadan refinery. Stories of an attack on pipelines in the south by Sunni Islamist jihadis have not been confirmed. As yet, there is no immediate reason to think oil production will be interrupted.        支撑该观点的第一个理由是,抗议活动主要发生在伊朗的城镇中,目前为止尚未波及石油出产地区。南部港口阿巴斯港(Bandar Abbas)的骚乱较为严重,但在阿巴丹(Abadan)炼油厂附近没有出现问题。有关逊尼派伊斯兰圣战分子袭击了伊朗南部输油管道的报道,截至目前为止未得到证实。迄今为止,没有直接理由认为伊朗石油生产会中断。
        The second point is that the overriding drive of every Iranian government over the last 38 years since the 1979 revolution has been to stay in power and preserve the Islamic Republic, even if that involves making sudden and radical changes in policy. And in this they have been remarkably successful and remarkably pragmatic. As any visitor to Tehran will notice Iranian society, below a thin theocratic layer, is open and, within limits, tolerant of different views. The country has a partial democracy in which real votes are cast.        第二个理由是,自1979年伊朗伊斯兰革命以来,过去38年里每届伊朗政府的首要目标都是继续掌权并维系这个伊斯兰共和国,即使这涉及做出突然而激进的政策转变。他们一直在非常成功并且极为务实地这样做。正如所有去过德黑兰的人都会发现的那样,在薄薄的一层神权统治之下,伊朗社会是开放的,并可以在一定限度内容忍不同观点。伊朗拥有部分的民主,选民投出的选票是真实的。
        This means that whatever the rhetoric about using an “iron fist” to stop the protests the more likely response will be to try to buy off the protesters with increased public spending and subsidies for basic needs such as food and fuel. The obvious way to fund such spending would be to increase oil exports. With prices relatively high that is a temptation for many oil producers; for Iran it could be an imperative. It would not be surprising to see the country abandon its Opec quota.        这意味着,无论领导人口头上说要怎样用“铁腕”来阻止抗议活动,更可能的反应是,通过增加公共支出、以及补贴食品和燃料等必需品来收买示威者。为此类支出提供资金的显而易见的办法是增加石油出口。在油价相对较高的情况下,增加出口对很多石油生产国都是一种诱惑;对伊朗而言,这可能势在必行。因此如果伊朗不管欧佩克石油生产配额,将不令人意外。
        Increased Iranian output and exports would come at a time when other factors in the market suggest a new year surge in production. The North Sea should very soon be fully back on stream after the Forties pipeline problems, and Libyan production should also be restored after the December pipeline fire. On these fundamentals it is hard to see prices being higher at the end of January than they are now.        伊朗增加石油产量和出口的时候,将正值市场其他因素显示新的一年产量将激增之际。在Forties输油管道故障解决后,北海油田应该会很快全面恢复供应,12月管道起火后产量下降的利比亚应该也会恢复正常供应。以这些基本面因素来看,1月底的石油价格很难超过现在的水平。
        Those are all temporary factors but there is a longer-term issue. The weakness of the Iranian economy cannot be corrected by a few handouts and subsidies. There are serious problems of unemployment and falling living standards.        这些都是暂时性因素,但还有一个较长期的问题。伊朗经济的疲软无法通过寥寥无几的救济和补贴来纠正。伊朗还存在失业和生活水平下降的严重问题。
        Two years ago the Iranian government came to the decision, with some reluctance, that it had to accept constraints on its nuclear programme in order to remove the sanctions that have damaged economic development. This was another example of pragmatism in action.        两年前,伊朗政府不太情愿地决定:为了摆脱破坏其经济发展的制裁措施,伊朗不得不接受对其核项目的限制。这是又一个伊朗发挥务实主义的例子。
        The problem is that the sanctions have only partially been lifted. Most international companies, including those in the energy business, have stayed away for fear of US action against them if they do business with Tehran. That leaves the country short of investment, technology and buyers for many of its products.        问题在于,制裁只得到了部分解除。包括能源企业在内的大多数跨国企业都一直对伊朗敬而远之,因为担心与德黑兰方面做生意会让自己遭到美国惩罚。这使得伊朗缺少投资、技术和买家来发展自己的很多产品。
        The current protests could lead to a fresh outbreak of pragmatism in Tehran. A new deal, on both the development of nuclear weapons and the withdrawal of support for militant groups across the region from Yemen to Lebanon, is not impossible. A significant relaxation in sanctions would help the Iranian economy and would suit many would-be investors — including, of course, the international oil industry.        目前的抗议活动可能导致德黑兰方面紧急采取新一轮实用主义举措。签订一份关于发展核武器和不再支持从也门到黎巴嫩的整个地区的武装组织的新协议,也不是不可能的事情。大幅放松制裁将有助于伊朗经济,并顺应很多潜在投资者的心意——其中当然包括国际石油工业。
        There is a vast amount of money waiting for access to one of the last great prizes for the oil industry — huge undeveloped resources with a low cost base. President Donald Trump would no doubt claim that his pressure had forced Tehran to accept a tough deal. Crucially, though, the Islamic revolution would survive and Iran's current government would remain in power.        目前有大量资金正等待进入石油行业最后的宝地之一——这里有大量资源尚未开发,而且成本水平较低。美国总统唐纳德•特朗普(Donald Trump)必然会声称,是他的施压迫使德黑兰方面接受了一份难以下咽的协议。不过,关键在于伊斯兰革命的硕果将得以保全,并且伊朗现任政府将继续掌权。
        Nothing is certain. Hardline ideology could prevail and force the government into a long, miserable confrontation with the people. The Saudis — who would prefer the Islamic Republic as a pariah state rather than see it returning to respectability and a role as the region's dominant state — could well try to block any agreement.        一切都说不准。强硬的意识形态可能压倒其他因素、迫使伊朗政府陷入与人民漫长而痛苦的对立。更希望看到伊斯被视为贱民国家、而不是重新获得尊重并恢复该地区主导国家地位的沙特人,很可能试图阻止达成任何协议。
        Whatever the outcome, there is a sense of instability and unfinished business across the Middle East; 2018 is not going to be a dull year.        不管结果如何,整个中东都存在一种不稳定和事情还没消停的感觉;2018年不会是沉闷的一年。
        The writer is visiting professor and chair of the Kings Policy Institute at King's College London         本文作者为伦敦大学国王学院(King’s College London)国王政策研究所(Kings Policy Institute)的客座教授兼主席

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