Lobby: Italy gov't to help oil firms if Iran banned

November 28, 2011 21:26

MILAN - Italy's government will give diplomatic help to the country's oil companies to find alternative sources of crude if sanctions are imposed on imports from Iran, a senior industry official said on Monday, adding Saudi Arabia could make up the shortfall.

"They have taken our information about the negative impact of the possible suspension of supplies from Iran to see what they can do on the diplomatic level to help find sources to replace imports from Iran," Pietro de Simone, director of oil industry lobby Unione Petrolifera (UP), told Reuters after meeting government officials.

European Union foreign ministers are due to meet on Thursday to approve new sanctions against Tehran that could cut financial links and ban oil imports over suspicions that it is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

With the new sanctions appearing inevitable, the lobby has asked the government to ensure the measures against Tehran would be gradual so that oil companies had more time to diversify supplies, de Simone said in a telephone interview.

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