EU set to phase ban on Iran’s oil

COMMODITIES fell broadly yesterday, with oil tumbling in a late sell-off on the news that Europe would phase a ban on imports of Iranian oil, part of the latest Western efforts to increase pressure on Tehran over its nuclear programme.

EU diplomats had said a consensus was emerging to grant a grace period before banning new deals with Iran -- six months for crude oil purchases and three months for petrochemicals, to allow countries such as Italy and Greece to find alternative suppliers.

European measures against Iran’s oil industry will complement US sanctions announced last month aimed at making it impossible for most countries’ refineries to buy Iranian crude.

Yesterday the US slapped sanctions on China’s state-run Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp, which it said was Iran’s largest supplier of refined petroleum.