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Iran Halts Oil Sales To France, Britain

Iran exports around 20 percent of its oil to the EU
The Iranian Oil Ministry says Iran has stopped selling oil to British and French companies.
Spokesman Ali Reza Nikzad Rahbar said in a statement on the ministry's website on February 19 that "oil sales to British and French companies have ceased," adding that Iran will sell its oil to "other customers."
Iran has been threatening for weeks to stop exporting oil to Europe after the European Union said it would stop importing crude from Iran.
The European Union last month imposed tough sanctions against Iran over Tehran's nuclear program which the West fears is aimed at building bombs. Iran denies this.
The sanctions include a freeze on the country's central bank assets and a ban on oil imports set to begin on July 1.
The 27-nation EU accounts for about 20 percent of Iran's oil exports.

Consumers In Europe
There was no immediate reaction to Iran's decision from British or French officials on February 19. But the French AFP news agency said the decision was not expected to have a big impact.
It says France last year bought only 3 percent of its oil -- 58,000 barrels a day -- from the Islamic republic, and Britain was believed to be no longer importing Iranian oil.
However, other EU nations, including Italy, Spain, and Greece are bigger consumers of Iranian oil.
Although those nations were not affected by Iran's announcement, they are included in the EU decision to stop buying Iranian oil as of July 1.
Last week, state media said Iran was planning to cut off oil exports to six EU nations -- the Netherlands, Greece, France, Portugal, Spain, and Italy -- but later reports said the six nations were only told that Iran has no problem finding replacement customers for the European shipments.
Iran is the second-biggest exporter after Saudi Arabia in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). It pumps 3.5 million barrels per day of which it exports 2.5 million.
Seventy percent of the exports go to Asian countries, China and India especially.
Iran's oil exports account for the majority of government revenues.

Compiled from agency reports

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