Iran Halts Oil Exports To UK, France
The action came as a response to European Union sanctions imposed by the EU and the United States in January, one Iranian oil ministry spokesman said. The West has expressed concern that Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at developing nuclear weapons, which that country has continuously denied.
"Iran has no difficulty in selling and exporting its crude oil. We have our own customers and have designated alternatives for our oil sales,” ministry spokesman Ali Reza Nikzad-Rahbar said. “We shall sell to new customers, who will replace French and UK companies.”
The European Commission said last week that the EU would not be short on oil if Iran stopped the exports, stating that the bloc has enough in stock to meet its demands for 120 days, Reuters reported.
Industry sources said that Iran’s top European buyers had been making considerable supply cuts months in advance, slowing down flows to Europe in March by more than a third – or over 300,000 barrels daily, according to Reuters.
Last month’s EU sanctions came in the wake of rising tensions in the Gulf over Iran’s nuclear program. The West wants Iran to provide more information on its nuclear program, by reducing its sale of crude oil, which accounts for half of the country’s revenue, according to CNN.
Iran said the cuts would not impact sales for the world’s fifth-largest crude oil exporter, claiming that any sanctions on its oil would spike worldwide crude prices, according to Reuters.
EU nations purchased 18 percent of Iran’s crude oil exports, or 452,000 barrels a day in the first half of 2011, according to Bloomberg News.