TEHRAN, June 13 (UPI) -- A shipment of Iranian crude oil was sold to Royal Dutch Shell and talks are developing with other major oil companies, an Iranian official said Monday.
Royal Dutch Shell paid off its debt to its Iranian counterparts early this year, clearing the way for the company to resume its cooperation with Iran now that sanctions pressures are easing.
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.
Mohsen Qamsari, the director of international affairs for the National Iranian Oil Co., said Shell was now among the first companies to buy Iranian crude oil. About 130,000 tons, or roughly 953,000 barrels, of oil may be loaded for Shell at a terminal on the Persian Gulf.
"Shell purchased Iran's first oil consignment and negotiations are still underway with other major oil companies to sell Iran's crude," Qamsari was quoted by the semi-official Fars News Agency as saying Monday.
Iran has courted potential European and Asian trading partners as sanctions pressures ease. Delegates from Austrian energy company OMV visited Tehran in late 2015. A spokesperson for Shell told UPI the company does not comment on shipping contracts.
Sanctions pressures on Iran started easing in January after the United Nations confirmed compliance with a multilateral nuclear agreement brokered last year. Under President Hassan Rouhani, the country has worked to reintroduce itself to a global economy restricted previously by sanctions.
According to the latest figures from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Iranian crude oil production for April of 3.4 million bpd was 20 percent higher than the average for the fourth quarter of 2015. Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said exports, meanwhile, have doubled.