World can’t do without Iranian oil: Tehran official Iran says no oil export to France

TEHRAN, Nov 25, (Agencies): Iran’s oil and gas reserves are so vast they cannot be excluded from the world market as France is urging the West to do, Mehr news agency Friday quoted the National Iranian Oil Company head as saying.
“Iran possesses massive oil and gas reserves... Thus ignoring Iran in oil and gas exchange will not be acceptable (by the international community),” said Ahmad Qalebani, who is also a deputy oil minister.
France’s announcement that it would soon stop importing oil from Iran was hollow, he added.
“The National Iranian Oil Company does not export any crude oil to France that could be subject to sanctions,” he said.

France on Thursday said it would stop buying Iranian oil. The foreign ministry said the move would be organised “in liaison with the European partners.”
France has called on other Western nations to put in place an embargo on Iran’s oil exports.
According to the US Energy Information Agency, France imports the equivalent of 49,000 barrels of Iranian crude per day, a tiny fraction of Iran’s oil exports.
France’s move followed coordinated announcements by the United States, Britain and Canada on Monday saying they were slapping additional unilateral sanctions on Iran’s financial sector.
The United States and Canada also unveiled extra sanctions targeting Iran’s petrochemical and oil and gas sectors.
The United States already has no dealings with Iranian energy companies. Its additional measures were aimed at dissuading foreign firms from doing business with Iran if they wanted to have access to the US market.

Qalebani said Canadian sanctions on the sale of petrochemical technology and equipment were only words.
“Iran does not import any oil and gas equipment from Canada. This country has no role in supplying parts and equipment to Iran’s oil industry,” he said.
The Western countries are imposing the unilateral sanctions to ramp up the pressure on Iran over its nuclear programme, which they fear is being used to develop atomic weapons.
Iran has repeatedly denied the programme has any military dimensions to it.
Iran said on Friday it had no crude exports to France which could be subjected to sanctions over the Islamic state’s disputed nuclear programme, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported.
This week France’s foreign ministry first suggested and then back-tracked on the imposition of a unilateral ban on oil from Iran, making clear it would only act over Iran’s nuclear programme as part of an EU-wide plan.

“The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) does not export any crude oil to France to get subjected to sanctions,” head of NIOC Ahmad Qalebani told Mehr.
France imported 20,000 barrels per day of Iranian crude in the first half of 2011, according to United States government data. European Union countries accounted for 18 percent of Iranian crude oil sales in that period, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) also said.
The French remarks provoked a wave of comment across Europe, suggesting a growing determination to toughen sanctions — an issue that is likely to be central to an EU foreign ministers’ meeting on Dec 1.
The European Union’s energy commissioner said a ban on Iranian oil imports would not be a problem for the European Union’s energy security.

The United States and its allies say Iran is trying to build bombs under cover of a civilian nuclear programme. Tehran denies this, saying it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity.
A slip by a French government official on Thursday, mistakenly suggesting Paris was about to unilaterally ban Iranian oil imports, has raised expectations that European Union countries could consider a boycott of the Opec producer’s oil sales to step up the pressure on Tehran over its nuclear programme.
France’s foreign ministry first suggested and then back-tracked on the imposition of a unilateral ban on oil from Iran, making clear it would only act over Iran’s nuclear programme as part of an EU-wide plantners.
In an initial statement posted on the ministry website, in response to a Reuters question, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said:
“The interruption of Iranian oil purchases is among the measures proposed by France to its partners. We will apply this at a national level.”
Another spokesman later called the wording ambiguous, and the ministry changed its original statement to: “The decision at a national level will be applied in coordination with our European partners.”
Nevertheless the French remarks provoked a wave of comment across Europe, suggesting a growing determination to toughen sanctions — an issue that is likely to be central to an EU foreign ministers’ meeting on Dec 1.

“We are discussing wide-ranging sanctions (on) Iran with partners in the EU,” a UK Foreign Office spokeswoman said, adding Britain expects to announce sanctions on further Iranian “entities and individuals.”
The US government said in a statement Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “expected more actions from our partners in the coming weeks that will send a clear message to the Iranian regime.”
The EU’s energy commissioner said a ban on Iranian oil imports would not be a problem for the European Union’s energy security.
“This is not a problem. It can be substituted by Opec and others,” Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said.
Europe saw a big drop in crude supplies from Libya when civil war broke out this year but Libyan deliveries are rising again now.
While most of Iran’s oil goes to Asia, it still supplies significant volumes to Europe via the Suez Canal.
US government data shows EU countries accounted for 18 pct of Iranian oil purchases in the first half of 2011 or 450,000 bpd. Italy was the leading buyer with 180,000 bpd, Spain took 137,000 bpd and France 20,000 bpd.
Libya at full output will deliver more than a million bpd to Europe.
The director of Italy’s national oil industry body said Italian sanctions on imports of Iranian crude were inevitable.

The United States, Britain and Canada on Monday announced new sanctions on Iran’s energy and financial sectors in steps aimed at raising pressure on Tehran to halt its nuclear work, which is internationally thought to have a weapons dimension. Iran says it is aimed at peaceful atomic energy.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed the twin approach of freezing central banks assets and halting oil purchases earlier this week as a way of pressing Tehran to halt its nuclear programme.
Valero said on Tuesday Paris wanted a quick decision, but would confer with the European Union, adding he did not believe France would be alone in dropping Iranian oil.
Sarkozy’s strong stance — his spokeswoman said on Wednesday France would “set the example” — comes when Paris has been taking a firmer position on Middle East policy than some its allies.
France was first to recognise Libyan rebels and push for military intervention in February. It has also called for Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to stand down and on Thursday became the first world power to propose a humanitarian corridor be set up in the country to protect civilians.
It was also at odds over the United States on the Middle East peace process, culiminating in October’s decision to back the Palestinian membership of the UN’s cultural agency UNESCO.
France bought more Iranian oil in the first half of the year to make up for disruption from Libya, but French oil industry body UFIP said France would easily make up for an Iranian crude import shortfall.

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