Iran's deputy oil minister says he's reached an agreement to send more crude oil to an Italian refining company. File photo by Maryam Rahmanian/UPI | License Photo
TEHRAN, May 9 (UPI) -- Iran's deputy oil minister claimed a deal was made with an Italian refining company for the delivery of around 65,000 barrels of oil per day.
Rokneddin Javadi, chief of the state-owned National Iranian Oil Co. and deputy oil minister, said the deal was signed with Italian refining company Saras, which had no official statement on the arrangement.
"The agreement covers a daily sales volume of 65,000 barrels of crude oil," he was quoted by Iran's Mehr News Agency as saying.
According to Javadi, that would be about twice what Iran sends currently to the Italian market. The deputy oil minister expressed optimism that a broader deal was possible with Italian energy company Eni, in which case oil exports to Italy would total about 100,000 bpd.
"Negotiations with Eni are in progress and a final agreement will be reached soon," the deputy oil minister said.
Eni had no statement on the potential for an agreement with Iran. Representatives from the Italian energy company met earlier this year with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who said he returned from his European tour with renewed commitments from energy companies eager to engage in a post-sanctions Iran.
Austrian energy company OMV last week said a memorandum of understanding with Javadi, saying the agreement was the first step toward resuming formal operations in Iran.
Iran during the weekend closed a three-day oil and gas exhibition that had around 35 foreign representatives in attendance. Iran is drawing in more foreign interest as its energy sector opens up after years of isolation triggered by international economic sanctions.
European sanctions pressures are easing in response to last year's multilateral nuclear agreement, giving regional energy companies a head start in the Iranian energy sector. Existing U.S. sanctions pressure on Iran makes it difficult to conduct financial transactions with Iran.