World Bulletin/News Desk
South Africa wants to resume oil imports from Iran, once its biggest supplier, and hopes to resolve "sanction issues" that have blocked purchases within the next three months, its deputy foreign minister said on Tuesday.
South Africa bought around 68,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) from Iran in May 2012, a month before it halted crude purchases as Western countries pressured Tehran over its nuclear programme. That was well down from peak purchases in 2011.
Africa's second biggest crude consumer imports around 380,000 bpd, with Saudi Arabia overtaking Iran as its biggest supplier in 2012 when Western sanctions increased. Nigeria, Angola and Ghana also sell South Africa oil.
"Definitely we have an agreement, of course with the sanction issue it slowed down, but definitely that is something we are doing," Nomaindiya Mfeketo said in response to a question about whether South Africa would resume Iranian oil imports.
"We deliberated on that (timing) in our meetings. We're looking at something under three months," she added.
The announcement by Mfeketo came after more than a day of talks in Pretoria with her Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. No details were given of the discussions or how the sanctions issues might be resolved.
The United States granted South Africa an exemption from financial sanctions after it made cuts in Iranian imports, but European Union sanctions preventing insurers from underwriting Iranian shipments have presented other problems for Pretoria.
Amir-Abdollahian said trade between the two countries was set to increase and South African President Jacob Zuma would be visiting Iran at a date to announced soon.
World powers have imposed sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme, blocking more than $100 billion of much-needed oil revenue held abroad from flowing back to the producer.
Trade sanctions have also prevented Iran from exporting to some countries, even though it sits on the world's largest gas reserves, according to statistics compiled by BP.
Iran's exports to its top four oil buyers - China, India, Japan and South Korea - rose to 1.2 million bpd in the first half of 2014, versus 961,236 bpd in the same period a year ago, according to official customs data and tanker arrival schedules.Last Mod: 09 Eylül 2014, 16:28