Iran signed an agreement to supply crude oil with Hellenic Petroleum SA, a Greek oil refinery, in what may be the Persian Gulf producer’s first such deal with a European company since the removal of sanctions this month.
Deliveries will begin immediately, Hellenic Petroleum said in an e-mailed statement on Friday, Bloomberg reported.
The agreement also includes an adjustment for a financial backlog owed to Iran’s state oil company after sanctions imposed four years ago, according to the statement. Iran’s Deputy Oil Minister Amir Hossein Zamaninia discussed potential energy co-operation with Greek Energy Minister Panos Skourletis earlier on Friday in Athens.
“Representatives from other European countries have been making trips to Tehran, so further announcements with the traditional importers of Iranian crude are likely,” said Olivier Jakob, managing director at consultants Petromatrix GmbH in Zug, Switzerland. The accord was probably the first publicly announced since sanctions were lifted, he said.
Europe had been Iran’s second-biggest oil customer before sanctions were introduced, purchasing nearly 600,000 barrels a day from the Middle East nation in 2011, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Greece was one of the biggest European importers, buying about 120,000 barrels a day in 2011, data from the International Energy Agency shows.
The return of Iranian oil could send prices even lower, as it fills in the gap left by the decline in US shale production, the IEA warned on Jan 19. Flows of Iranian crude to Europe may displace similar grades sold by Russia and Iraq, which may in turn be diverted to the US, Citigroup Inc. predicts.
European oil companies such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Eni SpA and Total SA have said they’re interested in returning to Iran to develop its oil reserves, which are the fourth-biggest in the world.
The Europeans are also trying to recover the ground they have lost in Iran. Before the sanctions, the bloc’s annual trade with Iran stood at 27.8 billion euros, which fell to 7.6 billion euros in 2014.
NITC envisages bourse listing
Iran’s largest oil tanker company said it is envisioning an international listing of its shares just as it prepares for its first sail to the European Union since 2012.
Nasrollah Sardashti, commercial director of the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC), told The Wall Street Journal that the company is considering “seeking qualification to list of the Tehran Stock Exchange and later outside” Iran to finance a major development program, Press TV reported.
NITC’s managing director, Ali Akbar Safaei, also told the newspaper that the company and its shareholders hope to enter the liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector.
He explained that the shareholders would invest in projects extracting natural gas while NITC would provide LNG transportation.
NITC has received a request for a tanker to sail to the EU, the first by an Iranian oil tanker since sanctions were imposed on the country four years ago.
The sanctions were lifted on January 16 as Iran’s nuclear deal with six world powers took effect.
Safaei also said NITC was in talks with large international shipping insurers to obtain cover.
NITC owns 69 tankers able to carry 15.5 million tons of crude.
The EU plans to send around 15 EU officials to Tehran in February to explore energy ties with Iran, European Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said one day after Iran received sanctions relief.
The “technical assessment mission” includes the initial four-day technical visit after which high-level commission staff, possibly with a business delegation, will travel to Iran.
Potential areas for cooperation include all areas of energy ranging from nuclear, oil, gas and renewable energy to energy efficiency, Arias Canete said.
In particular, he mentioned developing liquefied natural gas and also pipeline shipments through a route the European Union refers to as the ‘Southern Gas Corridor’ to carry supplies into southern Europe.