The European Union will not impose fresh sanctions on Iran’s oil sector because of the disruption it would cause to the global market, Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi predicted on Sunday.
“Iran is currently among the main oil producers in the world and without Iran the global oil market would be disrupted,” Mehr news agency quoted Qasemi as saying during a Tehran media conference.
European sanctions “would bring about a drastic hike in global oil prices,” he said.
“Iran has no problem in replacing oil (sales) to Europe. But there will be no sanctions on Iran’s Europe-bound oil,” Qasemi said.
The European Union on Friday said it was mulling imposing new sanctions on Iran from next month if Tehran did not cooperate with the international community on its controversial nuclear program.
Some EU states are calling for an embargo on Iranian oil, prompting Iranian lawmakers to warn that such a move would send world oil prices soaring to $250 a barrel from their current level of around $100.
The European Union has already stiffened sanctions against Iran this month by blacklisting 180 Iranian individuals and firms.
The measure added to four sets of U.N. sanctions on Iran and to unilateral Western sanctions, more of which were unveiled last month by the United States, Britain and Canada.
The international pressure to try to halt Iran’s nuclear activities stem from a fear by Western nations that Tehran is seeking atomic weapons. Iran has repeatedly denied the charge.
Rising tensions over Iran – OPEC’s second-largest producer after Saudi Arabia -- are already having an impact on the oil market, shoring up prices despite a dimming global economic outlook.
OPEC is to hold a meeting on Wednesday to examine the market pressures and determine whether to change or maintain production quotas.
Sales to EU member states – particularly Italy, Spain and Greece – accounted for 18 percent of Iranian oil exports last year, with the remainder of clients mostly concentrated in Asia, including main buyers China, India, Japan and South Korea.