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30 January 2012 - 22:16

Managing director of National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company (NIORDC) Ahmad Qal'eh-Bani said the company has already began marketing to sell 18% of its crude exports to new customers after the European Union (EU) decided to ban imports from Iran.

According to Khabar Online economy correspondent, Qal'eh-Bani stated that NIORDC is ready to halt oil supplies to Europe immediately. Such statement is in line with decision made by the energy committee of Iran's Majlis (parliament) to consider cutting off oil exports to the EU in near future.
 
However discussion on the action was postponed on Sunday, "No such draft bill has yet been drawn up and nothing has been submitted to the parliament. What exists is a notion by the deputies which is being seriously pursued to bring it to a conclusive end," Emad Hosseini, spokesman of the energy committee said, Mehr news agency reported.
 
Such measure came after the EU passed a new round of economic sanctions against Iran on January 23 including an immediate ban on all new contracts to import, purchase or transport Iranian crude and petroleum products. But, EU countries would honor existing contracts up to July 1.
 
The European Union officials said they also agreed to freeze the assets of Iran's central bank and ban trade in gold and other precious metals with the bank and other state bodies.
 
However, The Islamic Republic of Iran has long-term oil contracts with the Europe, and if it unilaterally cancel the agreements, it would be possible that they take legal actions against Iran in the International Court of Justice, which would compel Tehran to pay compensation.
 
As 18% of Iranian crude is exported to Europe, it is expected that in the next 6 to 12 months, the customers of Iran oil in the continent will be forced to submit to the EU decision.
 
In the meantime, the Islamic Republic is trying to take the upper hand and turn the embargoes back on the EU. Through a six-month deadline, the EU has planned to give those of its members which are most reliant on Iranian crude including some of the most economically hit countries more time to avoid more damages.
 
However, Qal'eh-Bani stressed: "Regarding earlier marketing measures, we are ready for now to halt selling crude to Europe. But if Iran's oil exports to the EU is cut off, its members will suffer a damage, particularly their refineries in private sectors."
 
"As Iran's crude has a good quality and we have ties with other countries, so we won't face any problem in selling our oil since it has several customers," the managing director of NIORDC asserted.
 
Earlier India, the world's fourth-largest oil consumer said it would not take steps to cut petroleum imports from Iran despite the US and European sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The country imports 12 percent of its oil from Iran.
 
India's Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters on a visit to the Unites States: "It is not possible for India to take any decision to reduce the imports from Iran drastically, because among the countries which can provide the requirement of the emerging economies, Iran is an important country amongst them."
 
Qal'eh-Bani pointed out the Iran has had long-term trade relations with European countries, so it did not expect to confront such decision by the EU: "In this situation, revising our trade ties with European companies will be inevitable, since the EU proved it's not a reliable trade partner for Iran."
 
Elsewhere, in a remark suggesting Iran would fight sanctions with sanctions, Iran's Oil Minister Qasemi also said: "According to the Oil Ministry’s future plans, we will cut our exports to certain countries."
 
"Sanctions will take their toll on the European people and will not create a problem for Iran’s oil exports even if exports to Europe are halted," he added.
 
All these confrontations are aimed to stop enriching uranium by the Islamic Republic which the West powers claim is meant for producing atomic weapons. But Iran has been firmly rejected such allegations stressing its nuclear program is peaceful in nature.
 
Iran is the second major oil producer in OPEC after Saudi Arabia. Before the presidential term of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which began in 2005, Iran was producing more than 4 million barrels of crude oil per day. Production has since dropped to about 3 million barrels per day.
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