Total joins petrol embargo of Iran

June 29, 2010

Total has become the latest big oil company to halt petrol sales to Iran, just days before Barack Obama, the U.S. president, signs into law sanctions targeted at Tehran's reliance on imported petroleum.

Under the bill, international companies that defy the unilateral measures could have their U.S. assets frozen and be barred from all financial transactions with U.S. banks, as well as being denied government contracts. U.S. companies have long been barred from trade with, and investment in Iran, with only minor exceptions.
The French energy group joined BP, Royal Dutch Shell and all the big oil traders in shunning Tehran before the unilateral U.S. sanctions came into force.
Traders said Total stopped supplying Tehran about a month ago. It remained unclear whether some deliveries already agreed were still pending for delivery.
Christophe de Margerie, Total chief executive, said in April the group would stop petrol sales to Iran if Washington passed legislation penalizing suppliers.
Total declined to comment.
However, the sanctions were unlikely to cut Tehran off from the global petrol market completely. Traders said Iran's long-standing suppliers were being replaced by small Dubai-based and Chinese companies. They said Iran would be able to source enough supply, although it would have to pay a premium.
The U.S. legislation is among a series of measures intended to increase pressure on Tehran in the wake of UN sanctions agreed this month.
European Union leaders have declared that the bloc will soon prohibit new European investment or technical assistance for Iran's refineries and liquid natural gas facilities, along with taking action against banks.
Tehran has claimed it can become self-sufficient in petrol over the next three years but the International Energy Agency, the western countries' watchdog, said the target was implausible.