EU Says Ready to Help Greece in Event of Iranian Oil Export Halt

European Union Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger reiterated that the bloc will be ready to help ensure Greece has enough oil supplies in case Iran halts exports before an EU embargo comes into force in July.

“We can give no guarantees, but we have said we will work in close consultations in trying to make sure we have the necessary amount of oil for refining if supplies from Iran were to be canceled in the next few days,” Oettinger said today in Brussels after a meeting of EU energy ministers.

The EU decided on Jan. 23 to ban imports of Iranian oil as of July 1 because of concerns that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. The five-month phase-in period, during which existing contracts are allowed to continue, is meant to give member states such as Greece that are relatively dependent on Iranian crude time to find alternative sources of supply.

The Iranian state-run Mehr news agency said last month that the country’s lawmakers are drafting a bill that would call for a halt of exports to Europe even before July.

The 27-nation EU needs to consider how to use “European financing mechanisms” to help ensure adequate supplies if needed, Oettinger told reporters today in Brussels.

“One thing we looked at was how to communicate more closely and ensure there’s security of oil supplies for all member states,” he said at the news conference.

The European law requires member states to hold emergency fuel stocks of at least 90 days of the average daily domestic consumption in the previous calendar year and Oettinger said in an interview on Jan. 26 that some countries may need to tap those reserves.

Stockholding Obligations

Greece conformed to its oil-stockholding obligations under the EU law and these emergency stocks can be released in the event of supply shortages, he said last month.

Imports of oil from Iran account for about 5 percent of EU consumption and from 10 percent to 30 percent in the most-exposed countries, which are Italy, Greece and Spain, according to the European Commission, the EU executive.

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