ELPE seeking to clear Iranian banking hurdles to pay NIOC

ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) is seeking to overcome restrictions still stifling Iran’s banking system, despite the recent lifting of western-imposed trade sanctions on the country, in order to pay a first installment, worth 100 million euros, for debt owed to NIOC, the state-run National Iranian Oil Company.

An outstanding amount of 600 million euros owed by ELPE to NIOC resulted from the banking restrictions caused by the sanctions, when they were imposed on Iran in 2011.

Iran’s banking system has yet to become fully operational since the end of the sanctions, making it difficult to transfer amounts to banks in the country.

ELPE is contemplating various options, including the establishment of a joint account with NIOC, a solution that could facilitate the Greek refinery’s payment to NIOC.

The first installment of 100 million euros will be broken up into three parts, as the amount concerns three different invoices issued by NIOC.

“We have not yet found a solution on how to deliver the first installment. Iranian banks are still blocked. Problems continue to exist when trying to transfer capital into the country. We’re examining various options,” an ELPE source told energypress.

ELPE and NIOC recently reached an agreement to recommence trading. Settlement of the Greek refinery’s outstanding amount was a key factor in the deal.

The Greek refinery is waiting for the right moment to place its first order as the considerable overall interest being expressed by western refineries for Iranian crude oil, now that the country is back in the international market, could influence price levels. NIOC will be resetting its price levels monthly.

ELPE’s new agreement with NIOC allows the Greek refinery to order at least two million barrels of crude per month. This could cover 25 percent of the Greek refinery’s crude oil needs, if Iranian price levels are viewed as competitive at ELPE. Otherwise, ELPE will continue ordering from other suppliers, such as Libya, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.