By Chryssa Liaggou
Iran is cutting the supply of oil to Greek companies Hellenic Petroleum and Motor Oil, according to a broadcast on Tehran-based news station Press TV that was reported by Reuters on Thursday.
The English-language network said that Tehran had stopped supplying the two major Greek refining companies due to problems with bank transactions resulting from reluctance on the part of European banks to get involved due to sanctions on Iran announced by the European Union and the United States.
“No comment” was the response of sources at Hellenic Petroleum who pointed to the firm’s recent statement on the issue saying that the group secures its refineries’ supply of raw materials required from the market and adjusts to conditions as they arise, suggesting that there is no problem with oil supply.
Motor Oil officials stressed yesterday that “the issue with Iran is long closed.” The firm’s deputy managing director, Petros Tzannetakis, has told analysts that he has a basket of supplies that changes depending on availability and opportunities in the market, the officials said.
Nevertheless, energy market sources associated the Press TV and Reuters reports with pressure for the privatization of Hellenic Petroleum and the downgrading of the group’s stock. They add that Greece is among 10 European states that the US has exempted from the economic sanctions because they have significantly reduced their purchases of Iranian oil.
The European Union’s embargo on Iran is due to go into effect on July 1, but banks’ reluctance to conduct transactions with Tehran has forced an end to Greek refineries being supplied with Iranian oil.
A Hellenic Petroleum source told Reuters that the company is currently purchasing quantities of oil mostly from Russia and Saudi Arabia equal to what it would have imported from Iran. In May it will increase purchases from Saudi Arabia and consider buying oil from Iraq, too.