Oil Report

Iran says profited from non-dlr oil sales increase

TEHRAN, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Iran has made a huge profit from its policy of increasing its sales of oil for currencies other than the U.S. dollar, Central Bank Governor Mahmoud Bahmani was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

The comment came after Britain’s The Independent newspaper quoted unidentified sources as saying Gulf Arab states were in secret talks with Russia, China, Japan and France to replace the U.S. dollar with a basket of currencies in the trading of oil.

But Kuwait’s oil minister said there were no such discussions among Gulf Arab exporters, and a source in the United Arab Emirates central bank said they will stay with the dollar as the crude trading currency. [ID:nSYD421795]

Iran a few years ago began increasing its sales of oil for currencies other than the dollar, saying a weak U.S. unit eroded its purchasing power. The Islamic state is under U.S. and U.N. sanctions over its disputed nuclear programme.

In late 2007, a senior Iranian official said the world’s fifth-largest crude exporter had raised to 90 percent its proportion of non-U.S.-dollar oil sales. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called the U.S. currency a “worthless piece of paper.”

Bahmani was quoted by state television as saying on Tuesday: “Iran gained a huge profit after changing its basket of currencies (for sales of oil).”

He added, without giving details: “Currently the dollar has the lowest share in the country’s basket of currencies.”

At a 2007 heads of state summit of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Iran suggested oil should be priced in a basket of currencies rather than dollars, but it failed to win over other member states except Venezuela.

The Iranian central bank has said it has been diversifying its reserves away from the dollar, but has not revealed details. (Reporting by Reza Derakhshi; writing by Fredrik Dahl; editing by Keiron Henderson)