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Iran Isn’t Blocking Oil to Greece, Papaconstantinou Says

Iran isn’t disrupting supplies of crude oil to Greece, Greek Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister George Papaconstantinou said.

“At the moment, we have contracts with Iran that are being executed normally,” Papaconstantinou said today in an interview in Athens. “We have had no disruption so far, there is no disruption and we do not expect any disruption until the start of the sanctions period.”

The European Union, including Greece, on Jan. 23 agreed to ban crude imports from Iran from July 1 to pressure the country over its nuclear program.

Iran refused to supply 500,000 barrels of crude oil to a Greek tanker for delivery to Hellenic Petroleum SA, Greece’s largest refiner, the Tehran-based Fars News Agency reported Feb. 26.

“Greece’s problem is that, because of financing issues, the oil bought from Iran moved to more than 30 percent of our total from less than 10 percent in the last year owing to easier financial terms given by Iran,” Papaconstantinou said.

Greece’s European partners are aware of this situation and they have said “very clearly” that they will assist the country to find alternative means of getting a secure supply of oil if a problem arises, he said.

“The exact way this will happen will depend on Greece’s economic and financial situation,” Papaconstantinou said. “We hope things will have normalized” by the start of the sanctions period and that “it will be easier for us to get oil from other sources as we will have finished the Greek debt exchange program and passing legislation for Greece’s new aid program.”

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