EU Commissioner for Energy and Climate Miguel Arias Canete says Iran and the EU will form a joint working group to address challenges confronting Iran’s oil trade.
“In this working group, we will try to come up with solutions to allow Iran to keep the level of its oil [exports] intact,” Canete said after a meeting with Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh on Saturday.
Zanganeh has vowed Tehran would spare no efforts to maintain its oil production and exports at current levels, and predicted it would overcome the difficulties resulting from the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal.
Iran, which has the world’s fourth-biggest oil reserves, produces some 3.8 million barrels of oil per day, 70 percent of which goes to China and other Asian countries, and 20 percent to Europe.
Iran’s trade with the European Union is around 20 billion euros, which is evenly split between imports and exports.
The EU on Friday started implementing the “blocking statute” process to shield EU companies doing business with Iran. The statute aims to neutralise the extraterritorial effects of US sanctions in the EU.
Despite the tough diplomatic efforts, however, the chances of the Iran nuclear deal surviving the impact of US sanctions were dealt a blow when the Danish shipping group A P Moller-Maersk said it was joining an exodus of companies ceasing commercial activity in Iran.
Maersk, the world’s largest oil shipping container firm, said on Thursday it would honour customer agreements entered into before 8 May, but then wind them down by 4 November, as required by the re-imposed US sanctions.
The announcement came after the French oil firm Total announced on Wednesday that it was going to pull out of its 50.1% stake in the South Pars 11 oil field. Total said it would only retain its investment if the US gave it a specific exemption from the planned sanctions. Its joint venture partners in China are likely to take over its share of the investment.
Iran’s oil exports were at 1m barrels a day, mostly to Asia and some European countries, before sanctions were lifted. They subsequently climbed to 2.5m barrels.