Stand up for the facts!

Misinformation isn't going away just because it's a new year. Support trusted, factual information with a tax deductible contribution to PolitiFact.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher June 17, 2021

Did Biden ‘import’ Iranian oil? It was seized, not bought

If Your Time is short

  • Technically, oil from Iran that was brought to Texas in March is an import, but it was seized, not purchased.

A blog post widely shared on Facebook claimed that President Joe Biden imported oil from Iran and called the deal "pure evil."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

"PURE EVIL: Biden Imports Oil from Iran After Shutting Down Keystone Pipeline and Putting US Oil Workers Out of Work," read the headline on an article from The Gateway Pundit written by Jim Hoft. Hoft’s @gatewaypundit Twitter account was permanently suspended in February for "repeated violations" of Twitter’s policies on election-related messages, according to news reports.

But the headline misleads: The oil was seized, not purchased.

The article refers to another Gateway Pundit article that links to a two-paragraph news story by Reuters in the Financial Post. 

Reuters, citing data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, reported that the U.S. in March imported 1 million barrels of Iranian crude, despite sanctions on Iran’s energy sector, in only the second such oil import since late 1991.

Technically, the oil was imported to the U.S. But this was no ordinary transaction.

A longer version of the story on Reuters’ website explained that the Iranian crude came from the Liberian-flagged tanker MT Achilleas. The oil landed in Texas a month after U.S. authorities seized the MT Achilleas, which "was in line with tough economic sanctions imposed by Washington on Tehran over its nuclear program and the U.S. designation of a number of Iranian groups as terrorist organizations."

Featured Fact-check

An Associated Press story added context.

When the Energy Information Administration data was released May 28, it raised the eyebrows of commodities traders because of the sanctions, according to the story. But as the AP explained:

"The oil came from the MT Achilleas, a ship seized in February by the U.S. off the coast of the Emirati port city of Fujairah. U.S court documents allege the Achilleas was subject to forfeiture under American anti-terrorism statues as Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard tried to use it to sell crude oil to China. The U.S. has identified the Guard as a terrorist organization since the administration of former President Donald Trump. Prosecutors say shippers tried to disguise the shipment by labeling it as ‘Basra light crude’ from neighboring Iraq."

The U.S. brought the Achilleas to Houston, where it sold the oil, according to AP.

Trump’s administration did a similar seizure.

In August, it confiscated cargo in vessels allegedly loaded with Iranian fuel in violation of sanctions and sent them to Houston.

Biden in January signed an executive order revoking the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, halting its construction in the U.S. TC Energy Corp., the Canadian company that owns the Keystone XL with the Alberta government, said at the time it would lay off 1,000 or more workers, and had previously estimated that the pipeline would employ 11,000 Americans in 2021.

For a post that contains only an element of truth, our rating is Mostly False.

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Tom Kertscher

Did Biden ‘import’ Iranian oil? It was seized, not bought

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up