Iran says oil may hit $150 per barrel on EU ban

Updated: 2012-01-29 20:24


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TEHRAN  - Oil prices could rise as high as $150 a barrel because of the European Union ban on imports of Iranian crude, the country's deputy oil minister was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency on Sunday.

"Although a precise prediction cannot be made on oil prices, it seems we will witness a $120 to $150 oil price per barrel in future," said Deputy Oil Ministry Ahmad Qalebani.

Benchmark Brent crude prices rose to around $111.50 a barrel on Friday on expectations Iran's parliament will vote to halt exports to the European Union as early as next week in retaliation for EU plans to stop all Iranian crude imports by July.

Escalating tensions between Iran and Western allies over Tehran's nuclear programme, including Iranian threats to close the vital Straits of Hormuz, have helped push up Brent crude prices by about $8 a barrel since mid December.

But analysts say the world is likely to have more oil this summer thanks to additional output from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Libya that will more than make up for any lost from Iran after the EU's ban is imposed on July 1 - and this is likely to be reflected in oil prices.  

Iran's parliament is due to debate a bill this week that would cut off oil supplies to the EU in a matter of days, in response to a decision last Monday by the 27 EU member states to stop importing crude from Iran as of July.

The EU banned imports of oil from Iran on Monday and imposed a number of other economic sanctions, joining the United States in a new round of measures aimed at hindering Tehran's nuclear development programme.  

Qalebani also warned foreign oil companies to either renew their long term contracts with Tehran or face the consequences of losing their benefits from the OPEC's second largest producer.  

Under buyback contracts, a common feature of the Iranian oil industry, investments in oil field projects are paid back in oil, often over many years.