Iran has refused to deliver a 500,000-barrel shipment of oil to Greece in response to EU oil sanctions imposed against the country.
According to a report by Fars News Agency on Sunday, oil tankers that had come to transfer 500,000 barrels of Iranian crude oil to Hellenic refining complex in Greece were forced to return empty-handed after the Islamic Republic refused to deliver the shipment.
European Union foreign ministers agreed on January 23 to ban oil imports from Iran and to freeze the assets of the Iranian Central Bank across the EU. The sanctions will become fully effective on July 1, 2012, to give EU member states enough time to adjust to the new conditions and find alternative crude oil supplies.
The EU decision followed the imposition of similar sanctions by Washington on Iranian energy and financial sectors on New Year’s Eve which seek to punish other countries for buying Iran oil or dealing with the its central bank.
The Senate Banking Committee on February 2 adopted a package of tougher new sanctions targeting Iran's national oil and tanker firms, authorizing the US government to impose a ban on foreign companies that buy oil from the National Iranian oil Company (NIOC) or have oil shipped by the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC).
On February 16, Iran stopped oil exports to British and French firms in line with the decision to end crude exports to six European states in response to sanctions imposed on the country’s energy sector.
The announcement caused a major spike in oil prices pushing the price of crude to over 122 dollars a barrel.
Iranian officials have repeatedly said that the country has no problem in exporting and selling crude oil to its customers.
Iran announced on February 21 that it will only continue exporting oil to the European Union if the member states give a guarantee to pay the price and sign medium- and long-term oil purchase contracts.
Greece has been in recession since 2009 despite austerity cuts and receiving bailout funds. The country has the highest debt burden in proportion to the size of its economy.