On December 5, the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center held a discussion entitled “Can the World Live Without Iranian Oil,” with Sara Vakhshouri, president of SVB Energy International; and Denise Natali, Minerva Chair, Institute of National Strategic Studies, National Defense University.


Over the past year, Iranian oil production and exports have declined drastically to levels last seen at the end of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. Yet the price of oil has remained relatively constant at around $100 per barrel or lower. Increasing oil production in neighboring Iraq and new discoveries in the United States and elsewhere, coupled with sluggish demand, raise the question of whether the world can live without Iranian oil and what that means for Iran’s ability to pursue a provocative nuclear program.

The Iran Task Force, co-chaired by Atlantic Council Chairman Senator Chuck Hagel and Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat, seeks to perform a comprehensive analysis of Iran’s internal political landscape, its role in the region and globally, and any basis for an improved relationship with the West.

A discussion with

Sara Vakhshouri
SVB Energy International

Denise Natali
Minerva Chair, Institute of National Strategic Studies
National Defense University

Moderated by

Barbara Slavin
Senior Fellow, South Asia Center
Atlantic Council

The Iran Task Force is generously sponsored by the Ploughshares Fund

Sara Vakhshouri is the President of SVB Energy International and was previously an independent consultant based in Washington DC where she advised energy companies, think tanks and investment banks about Middle Eastern geopolitics, economics and energy markets. Dr. Vakhshouri, a native of Iran, worked as energy market analyst and advisor to director of the National Iranian Oil Company International (NIOCI), a division that priced, marketed, and sold Iranian crude oil. Dr. Vakhshouri has also worked for the Petroenergy Information Network (PIN), and the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum as a research fellow as well as in the private Iranian energy sector. Dr. Vakhshouri, who has a PhD in Energy Security and Middle Eastern Studies, and an MA in business management and international relations, has published articles in The Economist, Oil and Gas Journal, Oil and Gas Review, Middle East Economic Survey (MEES), Strategic Affairs, Oil, Gas and Petrochemical Journal and The Huffington Post. She is the author of a book, The Marketing and Sale of Iranian Export Crude Oil since the Islamic Revolution.

Denise Natali is the Minerva Chair at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, the National Defense University, where she specializes in Iraqi politics, regional energy security, and the Kurdish issue. She is the author of numerous publications on Iraqi and Kurdish politics, energy and economy and identity, including The Kurdish Quasi-State: Development and Dependency in Post-Gulf War Iraq and The Kurds and the State: Evolving National Identity in Iraq, Turkey and Iran. Dr. Natali is also a specialist in post-conflict relief and reconstruction, having worked for the US Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance in Iraq and INGOS in Peshawar, Pakistan. Dr. Natali, who has a PhD in political science from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, is an adjunct associate professor at the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University, a contributing writer for Al-Monitor.com, a website devoted to news from and about the Middle East, and a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Barbara Slavin is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center and Washington correspondent for Al-Monitor.com. The author of a 2007 book, Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the US and the Twisted Path to Confrontation, she is a regular commentator on US foreign policy and Iran on NPR, PBS, and C-SPAN. A career journalist, Ms. Slavin previously served as assistant managing editor for world and national security of the Washington Times, senior diplomatic reporter for USA Today, Cairo correspondent for The Economist, and as an editor at the New York Times Week in Review.

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