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(Updates with comment from el-Badri in second paragraph.)
Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- The European Union wouldn’t be able to replace Iranian crude oil easily, according to Abdalla el- Badri, secretary-general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
“Europe is facing difficulties with sovereign debt and unemployment, so to cut 865,000 barrels a day immediately, I think it will be a problem and I advise against it,” he said today in Doha, Qatar, referring to the amount Iran exports to Europe. “But at the end of the day it’s the EU’s decision to decide what they want.”
EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger yesterday signaled the bloc may have reached an agreement whether to ban oil imports from Iran. The bloc tightened sanctions at a Dec. 1 meeting in Brussels, blacklisting certain individuals and companies, while falling short of authorizing an immediate ban amid reservations from Greece. The U.S. approved additional curbs on the Persian Gulf state’s oil industry on Nov. 21.
Iran’s oil minister Rostam Qasemi said Dec. 5 that he doesn’t expect the EU to stop buying its crude and doubted that a decision will be taken. Crude is the Gulf nation’s main source of income, earning it $56 billion in the first seven months of 2011, according to U.S. Energy Department estimates.
Oil markets are “well-supplied,” El-Badri said. Output from Libya is coming back with no difficulties and is likely to be fully restored by the middle of next year, he said.
--Editors: Raj Rajendran, Rob Verdonck.
To contact the reporter on this story: Wael Mahdi in Doha at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at email@example.com