EU firms renew Iran oil deals to win sanction reprieve

LONDON - Italian, Spanish and Greek companies have extended most of their oil supply deals with Iran for 2012, meaning the lion's share of Iran's supplies to the European Union would likely be exempted from sanctions for at least the first half of the year.
Trading sources told Reuters that Italy's Saras, ERG and Iplom, Greece's Hellenic as well as Spain's Repsol have either extended or have not scrapped existing term supply contacts with Iran for 2012.
"We kept our 2-year deal with Iran," said a trader with a refiner.
"At the moment it is business as usual, but of course we are considering potential alternatives. Asking the Saudis for more crude is one possibility," said a trader with an Italian company.
Italy, Spain and Greece take some 500,000 barrels per day out of European Union's imports of Iranian oil of around 600,000 bpd, according to the latest available data.
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