Western oilcos move to end trade with Iran

Iran faced growing economic pressure yesterday after two Western oil firms halted business with it, and a Gulf Arab country seen as a trade lifeline for Tehran moved to freeze some Iranian-linked bank accounts.

The developments underlined the major oil producer’s increasing international isolation over a nuclear programme it says is aimed at generating electricity but major powers suspect is intended for making bombs.

France’s Total joined an expanding list of companies that have stopped gasoline sales to Iran, and Spain’s Repsol said it had pulled out of a contract to develop part of the country’s huge South Pars gas field in the Gulf.

“Total has suspended its sales of gasoline or refined products to Iran,” a company spokesman said in Paris.

The decisions were announced four days after the US Congress approved a bill to penalise firms supplying gasoline to the Iran, which is the world's fifth-largest oil exporter but lacks sufficient refining capacity for its own fuel needs.