Reuters: Italy’s imports of crude oil from Iran surged 89.6 percent year-on-year in the first eight months of 2010, despite tighening of international sanctions against Tehran, according to Italy’s industry group Unione Petrolifera.
MILAN, Nov 29 (Reuters) – Italy’s imports of crude oil from Iran surged 89.6 percent year-on-year in the first eight months of 2010, despite tighening of international sanctions against Tehran, according to Italy’s industry group Unione Petrolifera.
Imports from Iran jumped to 7.32 million tonnes in the January-August period and accounted for 15.4 percent of Italy’s total crude oil imports which came in at 50.64 million tonnes in the first eight months of 2010, according to UP data published on Monday on its web site (www.unionepetrolifera.it)
Tighter international sanctions imposed on Iran in response to Western fears about the country’s nuclear activities, have deterred some of the Islamic Republic’s usual trade partners.
Tehran has denied it is seeking to build a nuclear bomb.
Italy’s buying from Iran gathered momentum just before the sanctions impact on oil and gas trade took full effect around July, with Iran overtaking Azerbaijan as Italy’s third-biggest supplier.
Italy, which depends heavily on energy imports because of scarce natural resources, cut imports of crude oil from Libya, its biggest supplier, by 13.9 percent to 11.35 million tonnes in the first eight months of 2010, according to UP data.
Imports from Russia, No.2 supplier of crude oil to Italy, dropped by 20.1 percent to 7.41 million tonnes in the period, while inflows from Azerbaijan jumped 15.6 percent to 6.51 million tonnes, UP said without commenting on the data.
Traders have said Italian oil refiners were among the most active buyers of Iranian crude in Europe this year.
Italy’s energy major Eni would continueto receive Iranian crude for at least another three years as Tehran still owed the company about $1 billion from decade-old deals, Eni’s Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni said last week.
Italian oil refiner Saras said this month that transactions with Iran have become more challenging as banks were reluctant to get involved.
Iran is a major oil exporter and its production is equal to about 4.2 percent of daily world demand. The amount of Iranian crude sold to countries that are members of the International Energy Agency declined by 22 percent in August.
(Reporting by Svetlana Kovalyova; editing by Keiron Henderson)