Iran denies oil counter-sanctions on EU

Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Ghassemi says there are financial problems, but no ban on selling to Spain, other EU countries.

An oil platform at Iran's Soroush oil fields 390 (photo credit: REUTERS/Raheb Homavand)
An oil platform at Iran's Soroush oil fields 390
(photo credit: REUTERS/Raheb Homavand)
Contrary to earlier reports, the Iran has not halted oil sales to European markets, the Islamic Republic's Oil Minister Rostam Ghassemi said on Thursday, according to AFP.
“We are still selling oil to all of Europe except Britain and France,” Ghassemi said.
In early April, Iranian state-run Press TV reported that Iran had cut oil exports to Spain and was considering blocking sales to Germany and Italy.
“Exports to France and Britain have stopped. For the other countries the exports continue, although there are some financial problems in certain cases,” he said. The financial problems are the result of financial sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear program.
In February, the Belgium-based bank system SWIFT, which transfers funds internationally, cut Iran off.
At the time of Iran's "counter-sanctions" announcement, Spain's biggest refiner said it had already replaced its Iranian crude with oil from Saudi Arabia several months ago.
Iran has played a tit-for-tat game over crude shipments since the European Union agreed in January that it would stop all Iranian oil imports as of July. EU states have since sought alternative supplies before that deadline, with Iran threatening to cut exports before then.
"Tehran has cut oil supply to Spain after stopping crude export to Greece as part of its counter-sanctions," Press TV had said, citing unidentified sources, adding that a similar move was being considered for Germany and Italy.
A spokesman for Spanish refiner Repsol said it had not been buying Iranian oil for months.
"No crude out of Iran for us since January," he said.
Repsol's imports of Iranian crude were estimated at around 65,000 barrels per day last year, making it one of Tehran's medium-sized European customers.
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The EU was the second biggest buyer of Iranian oil after China before the embargo which is a direct strike on the OPEC member's biggest source of export income.
Most European buyers have already reduced or halted their purchases from Iran in anticipation of the July 1 deadline and because of increasing difficulties in paying for the crude after tough new sanctions were imposed on Iranian banks.
The sanctions are designed to force Iran to stop some of the atomic work that the EU and the United States suspect is part of a nuclear weapons program, a charge Tehran denies.