'Iran has no oil export to France to be sanctioned'

Italy pushing companies to stop buying oil; EU will likely discuss Iran sanctions in upcoming FMs meeting.

By REUTERS
November 25, 2011 12:54
2 minute read.
Natanz nuclear facility, 300 km south of Tehran.

Natanz nuclear facility_311 reuters. (photo credit: STR New / Reuters)

TEHRAN - Iran said on Friday it had no crude exports to France which could be subjected to sanctions over the Islamic state's disputed nuclear program, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported.

This week France's foreign ministry first suggested and then back-tracked on the imposition of a unilateral ban on oil from Iran, making clear it would only act over Iran's nuclear program as part of an EU-wide plan.

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"The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) does not export any crude oil to France to get subjected to sanctions," head of NIOC Ahmad Qalebani told Mehr.

France imported 20,000 barrels per day of Iranian crude in the first half of 2011, according to United States government data. European Union countries accounted for 18 percent of Iranian crude oil sales in that period, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) also said.

The French remarks provoked a wave of comment across Europe, suggesting a growing determination to toughen sanctions -- an issue that is likely to be central to an EU foreign ministers' meeting on Dec. 1. The European Union's energy commissioner said a ban on Iranian oil imports would not be a problem for the European Union's energy security.

Italy believes sanctions should be tightened against Iran, and is seeking to persuade its companies to stop buying Iranian oil, the spokesman for Italy's Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

Italy relies on Iran for around 13 percent of its crude oil needs, equivalent to over 10 million tons per year (around 200,000 barrels per day).

"We are deeply convinced that we need to strengthen the pressure of sanctions on Iran and we are ready to discuss sanctions measures with our partners," Foreign Ministry spokesman Maurizio Massari told Reuters.

"We are applying moral persuasion on our companies to diversify their supplies of oil imports," he added


The United States and its allies say Iran is trying to build bombs under cover of a civilian nuclear program. Tehran denies this, saying it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity.


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