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Shell Follows Total in Buying Iranian Crude After Sanctions End

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  • Vessel with 1 million-barrel crude cargo booked for Europe

  • Total was first oil major to buy Iranian crude for region

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 19.11.36By Rupert Rowling, Angelina Rascouet and Julian Lee: June 8, 2016

Royal Dutch Shell Plc is set to ship a cargo of Iranian crude to Europe next month, becoming the second major oil company in the region after Total SA to resume oil trade after some sanctions on the Persian nation’s nuclear program were lifted in January.

Shell booked the Delta Hellas tanker to carry one million barrels of Iranian crude to Europe, loading July 1, according to lists of charters compiled by Bloomberg. Shell declined to comment on the booking.

Among oil majors, Total was the first to resume purchases of Iranian crude after the French oil company chartered a cargo in February. The first shipment to arrive in Europe was for the independent Spanish refiner Cia. Espanola de Petroleos, which unloaded on March 6.

Iran has vowed to recover its lost market share following a nuclear deal that loosened sanctions on oil exports and financial transactions in January. The flow of crude oil from Iran to European countries other than Turkey, which was exempt from the most recent sanctions, rose from zero in January to at least 290,000 barrels a day last month, according to tanker-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. 

Another three Suezmax tankers, each able to carry around 1 million barrels of crude, that are currently heading through the Red Sea towards the Mediterranean may also be destined for ports in Europe, the data show. They would raise the volume of Iranian oil exported to Europe last month to nearly 390,000 barrels a day.

The vessel booked by Shell, which was first reported by Reuters, is scheduled to load from Kharg Island, Iran’s biggest export terminal.

Despite the loosening of sanctions, some European companies remain wary of resuming business with Iran. Some U.S. restrictions on the country are still in place, preventing companies from doing deals with the nation using dollars. Some Greek refiners initially struggled to resume purchases of crude from the country due to banking restrictions.

Shell, which owed money to the National Iranian Oil Company for crude purchases before sanctions were imposed in 2012, was able to repay 1.7 billion euros ($1.9 billion) to the National Iranian Oil Corp., the company said in March. It also settled some payments via the country’s Bank Karafin.

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