Oil ban would hurt only Europe, Iran says

Dec. 12, 2011 at 6:17 AM
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TEHRAN, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Any EU move to impose a ban on Iranian oil imports would cripple the struggling economies of Spain, Greece and Italy, an Iranian parliamentary leader says.

Seyed Emad Hosseini, the rapporteur of the Iranian Parliament's Energy Commission, told the semiofficial Fars News Agency Saturday that a ban on Iranian oil as a means of protesting Tehran's nuclear program would only backfire on Europe, cutting off a source that supplies 15 percent of Italy's oil imports.

"Greece, Italy and Spain are the three main importers of Iran's oil and if our country's oil is banned these three countries will face energy crisis and will be paralyzed," Hosseini said.

The Iranian lawmaker said there's plenty of demand for Iranian oil elsewhere in the world so, if Europe were eliminated as a market, the "lack of sales to Europe would create no problem for our oil industry."

Rather, he asserted, the main damage from an EU ban would be felt by European refiners and the economies of the three countries, each of which are mired in recessions and struggling with sovereign debt crises.

EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said Tuesday he is looking to line up support from other large countries for the European Union's proposal to ban imports of Iranian crude, but no consensus has yet been reached, a spokeswoman for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Commissioner Catherine Ashton told the Trend News Agency.

Greece is opposed, Fars reported, while some analysts have warned EU sanctions on Iran's oil exports will hurt European refiners.

A European Council meeting Friday in Brussels produced no direct call for a ban on Iranian oil imports but it did issue a declaration calling for a series of other sanctions and promising a reassessment in January.

"The European Council reiterates its serious and deepening concerns over the nature of Iran's nuclear program, as reflected in the latest IAEA report and the failure of Iran to meet its international obligations," the EU leaders said.

In response, they designated 180 new entities and individuals directly linked to the nuclear program for targeted sanctions and promised to look at extending and broadening their scope and to adopt them by the next EU Council in January.

Oil analyst Manouchehr Takin of the Centre for Global Energy Studies told the U.S. trade publication Oil and Gas Journal his research indicated a possible EU ban on Iranian oil would hurt Europe more than Iran, given that Europe imports nearly 865,000 barrels per day from Tehran.

Takin said Iran could find other customers to replace Spain, Italy and Greece but alternative buyers wouldn't pay as much so Iran would probably be forced to sell at lower prices.

At the same time, Libya is quickly retooling its oil production facilities after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi and will likely be adding to world supplies shortly, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries Secretary-General Abdalla Salem El Badri said Tuesday in Qatar.

El Badri said Libya would return to its pre-civil war output levels by the end of the second quarter of next year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"Libya will reach its normal production by the end of the second quarter of 2012. Production is coming very fast," he said. "... By the end of the second quarter of next year Libya will reach 1.58 million barrels per day."

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