Iran says Russia unable to sell its oil

Iran said on Saturday that Russia has not been able to sell any of its crude oil cargoes – a rare acknowledgement of existing setbacks in an oil-for-food barter scheme whose details are yet to be exposed to the media.

“The problem in the [barter] agreement with Russia is the fact that it has not been able to sell any Iranian oil cargoes,” Mohsen Qamsari, the deputy director for international affairs of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), told reporters.

“Russia should be first able to market Iran’s oil so that Iran would provide it with its crude oil,” Qamsari has been quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.

He further added that Russia is not supposed to mix Iran’s crude oil with Russian Urals and then sell it. Russia, the official said, is supposed to sell Iran’s oil directly.

Officials in Moscow said in mid-April that Russia had started a strategic “oil for goods” barter trade with Iran, stressing that the due proceedings were already “working well”.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the country was providing a “considerable” volume of goods to Iran in exchange for the Iranian crude oil without providing any specific figures.

Under a barter deal that was first reported in early 2014, Moscow is to purchase up to 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Tehran in exchange for over 2 million tons of Russian goods a year.

The deal – referred to in the media as the five-year “oil-for-goods program” – is believed to have been created to help the two countries reduce the effects of US-led sanctions on them.

The US and the European Union have imposed an array of embargoes on Russian individuals and businesses over the crisis in Ukraine. They accuse Moscow of supporting anti-Kiev armed forces in eastern and southern Ukraine. Russia denies the allegation.

The US and its European allies have also imposed sanctions against Iran as the result of disputes with Tehran over its civilian nuclear activities. A key theme of the sanctions – that Iranian officials have openly described as “cruel” – is a ban for international clients over purchasing Iran’s oil beyond a certain ceiling.

Iran and P5+1 are currently negotiating over a final agreement over the Iranian nuclear energy program. The agreement – that has a deadline of June 30 – envisages the removal of some economic sanctions against Iran in return for the country’s steps to limit some of its nuclear activities.

Meanwhile, Qamsari said a key topic of Iran’s current nuclear negotiations with P5+1 is the removal of the ban on Iran’s oil sales.

He said Iran has been in talks with several Western clients over the purchase of Iranian crude oil all over the period of sanctions.  The official further emphasized that the companies are ready to purchase Iran’s oil once the sanctions are removed.

By Press TV