France to unilaterally halt imports of Iranian oil

French Foreign Ministry announces move in bid to convince EU allies to pressure Tehran on nuclear issue through oil ban.

An oil drilling rig 311 (photo credit: Andrea De Silva / Reuters)
An oil drilling rig 311
(photo credit: Andrea De Silva / Reuters)
PARIS - France will stop importing Iranian oil at a national level as part of a proposal it made to its allies to consider ending purchases from the world's fifth largest producer, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.
Asked by Reuters whether the French government would force French oil major Total to stop its crude shipping business with Iran, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said in a written answer, posted on the ministry's website:
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"The interruption of Iranian oil purchases is among the measures proposed by France to its partners. We will apply this at a national level."
France turned to Iranian oil in the first half of the year to make up for disruption during the Libyan war. Last year, Iran supplied 2.8 percent of French oil imports, or 1.8 million tons.
In the seven months to July this year, it supplied 1.6 million tons or about 55,000 barrels per day.
European Union Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said Wednesday that a ban on Iranian oil imports to press Tehran to abandon its nuclear activity would not be a problem for the EU. "It can be substituted by OPEC and others," he told Reuters.
On Tuesday the head of the National Iranian Oil Company said he had no fear of losing EU markets and that Iranian exports to the European Union were relatively small, with other countries willing to buy.
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