ROME, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Imports of Iranian oil surged by more than 90 percent during the past year despite Western economic pressure on Iran's energy sector, an Italian company said.
Italian industrial group Unione Petrolifera announced that oil imports from Iran were up 92 percent during the past year, Iran's state-funded broadcaster Press TV said.
The United States and European Union last year targeted Iran's energy sector with sanctions as punishment for a controversial nuclear program. Several international oil traders stopped doing business with Iran because of the sanctions and India is trying to find alternatives to the U.S. dollar to buy Iranian crude.
Unione Petrolifera said on its Web site that it purchased about 66 million barrels of crude oil from Iran during the first 10 months of 2010, however.
Iranian crude makes up about 15 percent of Italian imports, though 2010 imports were down slightly compared with the previous year.
Iran is the second-largest oil producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Italy is one of its largest customers.