Iran Delays Issuing $10 Billion in Bonds for Oil: Mehr

Iran’s plan to issue $10 billion in bonds to raise money for energy projects is on hold for several months, state-run Mehr news agency reported.

The bonds sales, which had been included as a funding plan in a draft budget presented by the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Feb. 27, is delayed by “at least four months,” Mehr said yesterday without citing anyone. Iranian media reported on Feb. 3 that the country was to initiate the borrowing in the new Iranian year starting on March 21.

The budget plan has yet to be approved by parliament and given that the permit handed to state-run National Iranian Oil Co. for issuing the bonds is only valid for this Iranian year the plan is unlikely to be validated before July, Mehr said.

The news follows an announcement earlier this week that a group of private companies that export Iranian crude, helping the government bypass international trade and financial sanctions, has stopped its activity, Mehr said, without saying whether the two developments are linked.

Iran is under U.S. and European Union sanctions over its nuclear program and the measures have limited the Persian Gulf country’s oil exports and complicated the repatriation of cash from oil sales. EU countries have halted oil imports from the Islamic republic since July and additional U.S. measures that came into force last month are further restricting the government’s access to foreign currencies.

The private sector has sold no oil in the past two months, Hassan Khosrojerdi, head of the Iranian Oil, Gas & Petrochemical Products Exporters’ Association said in a separate Mehr report on March 5. He cited “managerial obstacles” inside NIOC. The association of Iranian oil-product exporters has signed an agreement with Iran’s central bank and Oil Ministry to ship as much as 500,000 barrels a day, Khosrojerdi had said in July.

Given complications created by sanctions “regulations should have been simplified to allow for the private sector to export the oil,” Hamid Hosseini, a member of the exporters’ association’s board of director said in the same Mehr report. NIOC “was unwilling to show any leniency for the private sector to cooperate,” he said.

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