LONDON/BRUSSELS - Britain is seeking to persuade fellow European Union members to postpone by up to six months a ban on providing insurance for tankers carrying Iranian oil, arguing that it could lead to a damaging spike in oil prices, European diplomats said.
A European Union ban on importing Iranian oil, which takes effect on July 1, will also prevent EU insurers and reinsurers from covering tankers carrying its crude anywhere in the world.
The impact of the measure is likely to be felt strongly in London's financial district, the center for marine insurance. Iran exports most of its 2.2 million barrels of oil per day to Asia. The four main buyers - China, India, Japan and South Korea - have yet to find a way to replace the predominantly Western insurance shipping cover provided by London insurers.
"Britain will be pushing the EU to postpone the ban on P&I insurance by six months," said one diplomatic source.
"The main reason is pressure from Japan and South Korea as they would struggle to buy oil after July 1," the source said.