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Iran takes oil business private

July 17, 2012 at 6:40 AM

TEHRAN, July 17 (UPI) -- Crude oil supplies from Iran will no longer be isolated to a single state-controlled entity, the country's mining and trade minister confirmed.

Iranian Industry, Mine and Trade Minister Mehdi Qazanfari said the private sector in Iran would be involved in selling crude oil.

"This way, the private sector can sell oil with lower advance payments and at prices lower than the Oil Ministry and its revenues will be returned to the country in cash or in the form of imports of goods," he was quoted by the semiofficial Fars News Agency as saying.

Tehran said it's set up a consortium of 65 members of the private sector that are facilitating the delivery of Iranian crude oil. The government said it's managed to export $18 billion worth of petroleum products through private channels but didn't disclose a time frame for the sales.

U.S. and European sanctions targeting the Iranian oil sector went into force recently. Iran's adversaries are looking to block funds they say are used to finance a nuclear program suspected of having military dimensions, an allegation Tehran denies.

The U.S. government announced last week that it uncovered a series of front companies that were used to obscure trading in Iranian petroleum products.

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