* Export financing coming from Chinese, Italian banks
* Other majors reluctant to get involved
* Shell says complying with all legislation
(Releads with trading sources, adds Shell spokesman)
LONDON, Sept 28 Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) and
Italian refiners are maintaining crude oil trade with Iran at a
time when other oil majors and big refiners are halting orders
amid U.N.-imposed sanctions, traders said on Tuesday.
A Shell spokesman said the company was complying with all
The United Nations imposed sanctions in June in reaction to
Iran's uranium enrichment programme and although the sanctions
excluded Iranian oil exports it has made trade financing very
difficult and deterred many firms with large U.S. operations.
Among major oil companies, BP (BP.L) has trimmed its
exposure to Iranian crude and last week industry sources said
Portuguese oil company Galp (GALP.LS) had scaled back its
U.S. refiners have long been prohibited from processing
Iranian crude under sanctions, but refiners elsewhere face no
such ban. Asia is the top market for Iran, with China and India
thought to be destinations for large amounts.
Traders said finding the right banks to agree to pre-finance
deals was the key challenge to doing business with Iran and so
far only Shell and some Italian refiners have remained large
customers in Europe.
"Banks are completely shut. There is very little going from
Iran. Shell has some financing from Chinese banks and Italian
refiners are getting some volumes with the help of Italian
banks," one major player on the Mediterranean crude market said.
"We do not comment on our trading activities but would
underline that we continue to comply with all legislation. As
you know, it is not illegal to lift oil from Iran," a Shell
"It is untrue to claim we purchase crude oil at a discount.
We buy at the Official Selling Price that each producer makes
public to buyers," he added.
Another trader said the market was aware that Italian firms
Agip (ENI.MI) and Saras (SRS.MI) were importing Iranian crude
with the financing help from Italian banks. Agip and Saras were
not immediately available for comments.
"(Italian refiner) ERG could have the opening of banks in
the near future," the first trader said.
The comments from traders follow a report by Britain's
Guardian newspaper on Tuesday which cited sensitive trading
documents as saying Shell has bought $1.5 billion worth of crude
oil from the National Iranian Oil Company (NOIC) this summer.
Industry sources told Reuters Shell was lifting 80,000
barrels per day of Iranian crude under a term contract, which
would be worth only around $500 million in June-August.
"Trade continues and will continue until things change
politically. Business is pretty much where it has been," said a
Wide-ranging international sanctions implemented in June and
July have excluded crude oil sales, but Western-allied powers
have increased political pressure on countries to trade less
(Reporting by Karolina Tagaris, Alex Lawler and Dmitry
Zhdannikov; editing by James Jukwey)