* Oil official says no impact seen from new sanctions
* Export contracts being renewed as usual, NIOC says
* Iran will use "any tools" to defend interests
TEHRAN, Jan 16 Iran said on Monday it was
business as usual with Asia's leading oil buying countries,
despite growing pressure on its customers in the East from a
tightening mesh of sanctions hampering its crude exports.
Asian leaders are touring the Middle East to secure
supplies, as tension over Iran's nuclear work builds, while
European buyers may rely more heavily on Arab oil producers
should an EU ban come into effect.
Mohsen Qamsari, head of international affairs at the
National Iranian Oil Co., told Sharq daily that Iran had renewed
some contracts with foreign refiners and would do so with others
as deadlines approached.
"The one-year contract with Korean companies to buy our oil
has been renewed since the last two months," Qamsari said.
South Korea will buy around 10 percent of its crude from
Iran in 2012, up slightly from last year, as it seeks a waiver
from toughened U.S. sanctions, and its refiners were also
looking for alternatives, traders and officials told Reuters
early in January.
Iran has warned Gulf Arab neighbours they would suffer
consequences if they raised oil output to replace Iranian crude
facing an international ban.
When asked whether Japan had reduced its oil imports from
Iran, Qamsari said: "It is not true. The time for renewal of
contracts with the Japanese is around March and they are buying
240,000 barrels from us per day."
Qamsari also denied any problems doing business with India.
India has been struggling to pay Iran after the new U.S.
sanctions which penalise any financial institutions dealing with
Iran's central bank. It currently pays through Turkey's
Halkbank, a mechanism that may be cut off by the latest round of
Qamsari declined to comment about using the Indian rupee for
oil sales, saying the matter was for Iran's central bank to
decide. He said most Chinese oil deals to Iran were paid for in
The EU has agreed in principle to ban imports of Iranian
oil, while the United States has pressured Asian buyers to
reduce imports to starve Tehran of revenue for its disputed
On the European Union's planned embargo on Iranian oil
imports, Qamsari said: "In my opinion it cannot be implemented
fast. It would take around one year at least."
EU countries have proposed grace periods on existing
contracts of one to 12 months to allow companies to find
alternative suppliers before implementing an
Parliament speaker Ali Larijani told state-run Arabic
language al Alam TV that Tehran was ready to deal with further
"We are prepared for oil sanctions and have different
scenarios, but we would not announce them in order to avoid
alerting our enemies," he said.
Iran has warned it could shut the Strait of Hormuz, a
shipping chokepoint, if sanctions are imposed - a threat that
temporarily pushed up global oil prices.
Referring to a letter Washington sent to Tehran about the
strait, the senior military adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah
Ali Khamenei reiterated Tehran's defiant stance.
"Iran would use any tools to defend its national interests,
if it was exposed to any dangers," Major-General Yahya
Rahim-Safavi said, according to the semi-official Mehr news
(Reporting by Ramin Mostafavi, editing by William Hardy)