World Bulletin / News Desk
Iran dismissed a European Union oil embargo which took effect on Sunday and said it was fully prepared to counter the impact of sanctions with a $150 billion war chest of foreign reserves.
The EU ban on crude imports is part of a push by Western countries aimed at choking Iran's export earnings to try to force it to curb a nuclear programme.
"All possible options have been planned in government to counter sanctions and we are fully prepared to deal with them," Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said in comments on the ministry's website.
Qasemi said Iranian oil was still being sold on international markets and that oil importers would be the big losers if a blockade leads to price rises.
The United States also has sanctions in place, although it has spared all 20 of Iran's major oil buyers from measures against them for dealing in Iranian crude for now.
The European Union banned new contracts for imports of Iranian crude in January, but allowed existing ones to continue until July 1. The embargo also covers transporting Iranian crude or insuring shippers who are carrying it.
Iranians lost jobs
There are signs the embargo is already having an impact on Iran's economy.
Its crude oil exports - which according to EU estimates represent some 80 percent of the government's export revenues and half of its income - have fallen by 40 percent this year. Iran used to export a fifth of its crude to EU countries.
The Iranian rial has fallen sharply and inflation is running at 20 percent. Tens of thousands of Iranians have lost their jobs and trade between Iran and Europe has halved in a year, according to Eurostat data from March.
The governor of Iran's central bank said it had built up $150 billion in foreign reserves to protect itself.
"We are implementing programmes to counter sanctions and we will confront these malicious policies," Mehr news agency quoted Mahmoud Bahmani as saying.
In three rounds of negotiations, Western powers have demanded Tehran halt its high-grade uranium enrichment activities, ship all high-grade uranium out of the country and close down a key enrichment facility.
Iran says its nuclear programme has only peaceful aims, but Western countries and nuclear-armed Israel fear Iran is developing nuclear weapons.
BP's exploration and production sharing agreement with Libya covers onshore acreage in Ghadames, near the border between Libya, Algeria and Tunisia, and offshore acreage in the central Sirte basin
There are discussions at high levels within the U.S. government on how to use U.S. natural gas resources
The judicial sources said on Thursday that prosecutors suspected the companies of working together on campaigns to favour Lucentis, including promoting it to local doctors
Scotland's Energy Minister Fergus Ewing offered to meet Shell to discuss the future of the oil and gas industry if Scotland votes to end its 307-year tie with England
European Commission President said that from a purely financial standpoint the crisis in Ukraine should not have much impact on the euro zone but there was potential for far greater instability
The rouble-traded MICEX lost 1.9 percent on the news to trade at 1,322.2 points. It had earlier traded in positive territory.
If tensions eventually escalate into economic sanctions, the single biggest point of vulnerability for the Gulf would probably be the Dolphin Energy pipeline carrying about 2 billion cubic feet of gas per day from Qatar to the UAE and Oman
The former Soviet republic is strategically important to Moscow as the main gas transit route to the European Union, Russia's biggest customer
Iran will soon receive a second installment of previously frozen assets which are being returned to it under an interim nuclear agreement with world powers
Economic growth jumped to 5.2 percent in the last quarter, but Romania remains the second poorest country in the European Union
Brent crude prices decreased by 1.8 percent, more than US$2 per barrel on Wednesday.
The southeast European country sets out to achieve price stability by increasing the share of private entities in its state dominated energy sector.
Premier Li Keqiang also said at the start of the China's annual parliamentary session, that the country's 2014 growth target will be kept at 7.5 percent, inflation at 3.5 percent and broad M2 money supply growth at 13 percent.
Japan has struggled to define its approach to bitcoin since the collapse of Mt. Gox, which filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo on Friday, saying it had lost bitcoins and cash worth some half a billion dollars due to hacker attacks on what it said was its lax computer system security.
"We are not concerned about short-term security of supply," Energy Commissioner Oettinger told a news conference. "But we are concerned about security of supply in Ukraine."
The Obama administration tucked a request for a shift in IMF funding into the president's proposed budget for the 2015 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.