Iran Crude Contracts Facing Banking Difficulties

Iran Crude Contracts Facing Banking DifficultiesIran Crude Contracts Facing Banking Difficulties

Even after the lifting of international sanctions against Iran, longstanding US banking limitations are impeding the country’s oil resurgence by forcing energy companies to use small lenders or barter to get their deals done.

"France’s Total SA in February had to arrange payments through three smaller European banks to ship the first exports of Iranian crude to Europe in years," said Mohsen Qamsari, the director in charge of marketing oil at the National Iranian Oil Company.

Before international banking sanctions, which started around 2006, Total often used giant French bank BNP Paribas SA for project finance and oil shipments in Iran, according to people familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The smaller banks that Qamsari said Total used—Germany’s Europaisch-Iranische Handelsbank AG, Switzerland’s Banque de Commerce et de Placements and Turkey’s Halk Bankasi—do not do much business in the US—if any.

"After running into banking hurdles, some European companies are setting up complex bartering arrangements to buy Iranian petrochemicals," said Ali Mohammad Bossaqzadeh, the director of production control at Iran’s state-run National Petrochemical Company.

Energy transactions “have not taken place as quickly as we would have wished”, Amirhossein Zamaninia, Iran’s deputy oil minister for international affairs, said. “Some major banks are being too cautious … because they have been terrorized by the United States’ Treasury in the past.”

However, Zamaninia said deals are getting “resolved case by case. It is a question of time”.