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Iran confirms has $2B oil debt with Italy’s Eni

An Iranian oil official has confirmed that Iran owes Italian energy major Eni some $2 billion worth of oil that Rome is concerned could be put at risk by a European Union embargo on crude imports from the Islamic Republic.

January 9, 2012 11:16 by

Mohsen Ghamsari, head of the international affairs office at the National Iranian Oil Co. (NIOC), told the semi-official Mehr news agency the debt would be settled in accordance with existing contracts.

“Based on the buyback contracts, this amount will be paid off to this Italian company,” he was quoted as saying.

Last week European governments reached a preliminary deal to impose sanction on Iran’s oil exports to the European Union but the details have not been finalised.

Italy said it was ready to back the EU oil embargo on Iran as long as it is imposed gradually and deliveries used to repay Tehran’s debts to Eni are exempted.

Iran, the world’s third largest oil exporter, also sits on the world’s second-largest natural gas reserves, but the development of its energy sector has been slowed due to international sanctions over its nuclear programme.

Many foreign companies with capital and modern technology have been forced to pull out of Iran’s lucrative energy sector due to the fear of sanctions.

Iranian energy officials said last year they were in talks with Eni on developing the Darkhovin oil field, but the Italian firm told US authorities in April 2010 it was handing the operation to local partners to avoid US sanctions.

Iran ceded the contract to develop the field to a consortium of local firms in August. (Writing by Ramin Mostafavi; editing by Jason Neely)

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