Jul 7, 2014, 7:03 PM
News Code: 2720570
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Oil industry becoming free from shackles of sanctions

Tehran, July 7, IRNA -- Sanctions imposed by the US and its European allies on Iran's oil industry are being eased by the day due to measures taken by the government of President Hassan Rouhani and in the wake of nuclear talks.

More cracks are running up the wall of sanctions and the oil industry appears to be getting rid of the shackles of embargoes.

Tuesday edition of the English language newspaper Iran Daily wrote that in the past month, the process of imposing sanctions on Iran has slowed down in a way that in some cases parts of sanctions have either been lifted or suspended.

In the latest development, the General Court of the European Union (EU) scrapped sanctions imposed by the 28-nation bloc on National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) for its alleged role in Iran's nuclear energy program.

The court rejected the EU's 'claims, produced as reasons' for linking NITC's oil and gas activities to nuclear program funding.

The EU Council had committed a 'manifest error' in its assessment of NITC, the court said, adding that the EU Council had no evidence to support its allegations against the Iranian company in 2012.

The court also ordered the EU Council to "bear its own costs and to pay the costs of" NITC.

The ruling comes after Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council—the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China—plus Germany signed an interim deal in Geneva last November over Tehran's nuclear energy program. Under the six-month deal, which went into effect on January 20, sanctions against Iran were partially suspended while Iran scaled back its nuclear energy program.

Following the Geneva deal, a set of sanctions including restrictions imposed on Asian countries for buying crude from Iran and pressure to reduce oil import was eased.

The deal also led to the removal of embargo that prevented Iran from exporting petrochemical products and the suspension of sanctions that barred extending insurance coverage to tankers carrying Iranian crude.

There are unofficial reports that Iran's oil export has dramatically increased in the wake of such developments.

Thanks to Iran's diplomatic efforts, a positive atmosphere has been created in the international arena to boost interactions with the Islamic Republic in the oil sector.

Several oil giants from France and Italy have sent delegations to Iran for secret talks to sign deals with Iranian firms once all sanctions targeting the country's oil industry are lifted.

Leading international companies are now monitoring all developments pertaining to Iran to predict the course of actions. They don't want to lag behind their rivals in the race for securing a better position in Iran. These companies signaled their willingness to invest in Iran's oil and gas industry and are desperately waiting to see the sanctions removed.

European companies, which are under lesser pressure compared to their American rivals, seem be leading the competition. They have conducted secret talks with Iranian officials but have denied them in order to escape possible US penalties and fines.

As Reuters wrote, major European oil buyers have been queuing up to meet Iranian officials as they jostle to re-establish a strong position with Tehran in anticipation of a full lifting of Western sanctions.

Even as the United States and its Western allies try to hold the line to maintain tough sanctions, executives from European oil firms—among them France's Total and Italy's independent refiner Saras—have visited Tehran, industry sources say, for talks with the National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC).

A thaw in relations with the West has opened the door to revive suspended oil trade with Europe as early as the end of this year, sources directly involved in the talks said.

In the meantime, Iran has drafted new contracts with lucrative content in order to draw international oil giants which have great influence among Western politicians.