EU’s Oettinger Says Bloc May Have Consensus for Iran Ban

European Union Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger signalled the bloc may have reached an agreement whether to ban oil imports from Iran.

Asked in Doha, Qatar whether there was consensus within Europe for the ban he said: “I think so, yes.” He didn’t specify when the EU would implement a ban.

The EU agreed to tighten sanctions on Iran at a Dec. 1 meeting in Brussels, blacklisting certain individuals and companies, while falling short of authorizing an immediate ban amid reservations from Greece. The U.S. approved additional curbs on Iran’s oil industry on Nov. 21. Crude is the Persian Gulf state’s main source of income, earning it $56 billion in the first seven months of 2011, according to U.S. Energy Department estimates.

Europe should agree on the ban and then bring in other countries such as Russia and the U.S., Oettinger said at the World Petroleum Congress. “Our ministers at the commission think a ban is a good offer to other countries to go to a global ban,” he said.

Iran’s oil minister said yesterday he doesn’t expect the EU to stop buying its crude. There are “some doubts the decision will be taken,” Rostam Qasemi said in Doha.

$250 a Barrel

Oil will surge to more than $250 a barrel if nations ban its purchases, the Tehran-based Shargh newspaper said Dec. 4, citing Ramin Mehmanparast, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry.

A 3-to-5 percent increase in the price of crude next year is acceptable, Oettinger said. There will be “no problem” if that happens, he said. Brent, the benchmark for more than half the world’s crude, has gained 16 percent this year to trade at about $110 today on London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

The Gulf nation exported 2.2 million barrels of crude a day in 2010, according to the Energy Department data, making it the second-largest supplier in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries after Saudi Arabia. More than half was sold to China, Japan and India in the first six months of this year. Refiners in Europe, collectively the second-largest market for Iranian oil after China, bought 450,000 barrels daily.

“The risk of disruptions to oil supplies remains high,” Christophe Barret, a London-based analyst at Credit Agricole SA, said in a report. “This would introduce severe disruptions to refining in several EU countries.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony DiPaola in Dubai at adipaola@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net

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