Iran stops crude sale to British and French companies

Iran has stopped sale of crude to British and French companies, the Iranian oil ministry said yesterday. The move comes as a retaliatory measure against fresh EU sanctions on the Islamic state's lifeblood, oil.

"Exporting crude to British and French companies has been stopped ... we will sell our oil to new customers," spokesman Alireza Nikzad was quoted as saying by the ministry of petroleum website.

The EU in January decided to stop importing crude from Iran from 1 July  over its nuclear programme, which, according to the west was meant for building bombs, though Iran denied this.

Iran's oil minister said on 4 February that it would cut crude supply to some European countries.

According to the European Commission, the bloc would not be short of oil if Iran stopped crude exports, as it had enough to last for around 120 days.

Reuters quoting unnamed industry sources said that Iran's top oil buyers in Europe were substantially cutting back on offtake ahead of EU sanctions, reducing flows to the continent in March by more than a third - or over 300,000 barrels a day.