Shell settles debt with Iran

Dutch supermajor says few things have changed about potential work with OPEC-member Iran.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   March 8, 2016 at 6:17 AM
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THE HAGUE, Netherlands, March 8 (UPI) -- Royal Dutch Shell said it was able to pay off its debt to its Iranian counterparts, though that was not necessarily indicative of an imminent market move.

"Following the lifting of applicable European and U.S. sanctions, we can confirm that payment of the outstanding Shell debt to the National Iranian Oil Co. has now been made," a Shell spokesperson said in a statement emailed to UPI.

Shell Chief Executive Officer Ben van Buerden said in early February the company was eager to settle its debt to Iran as soon as legal mechanisms permit. At the time, the CEO said it was still too early to make any firm commitments in Iran.

"We need to take a view on, of course, general country risk, as we do with every other country," he said.

Iran has courted potential European and Asian trading partners as sanctions pressures ease. Delegates from Austrian energy company OMV visited Tehran in late 2015 and, while OMV has an office in Iran, the company said there were no concrete developments in the works at the time.

Iran this week said a tanker of its crude oil left port for an undisclosed European consumer. The shipment marks the first from Iran since mid-2012, when the European Union enacted sanctions on the country in response to its controversial nuclear program.

The Shell spokesperson said the debt payment changes little about the potential for Iran. The company remains interested in working in the country according to the terms of existing laws, he said.

Existing U.S. sanctions restrict financial channels for work with Iran. The debt payment was made in euros over the last three weeks and details will be outlined in Shell's annual report, which is due out in the near future.

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