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16 foreign oil companies may have violated Iran sanctions

Date: Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Source: CNSNews.com

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that 16 foreign oil companies, including BP Global, may have violated U.S. sanctions on doing business with Iran. The companies, according to the GAO, sold or are selling gasoline to Iran, which is punishable under U.S. law.

The report, based on a GAO survey of thousands of publicly available energy industry and other publications, found that 16 firms had sold refined petroleum products – things such as gasoline and fuel oil – to Iran from January 2009 to June 2010.

Among those firms, three, including BP global, had contracts with the federal government.

“This report highlights open source information that, following further investigation by the State Department, could contribute to the identification of persons or firms whose activities may be sanctionable,” the report states.

Among those 16 companies, five are still selling petroleum products to Iran. Those firms, two from China, one from Singapore, and one from the United Arab Emirates did not offer any indication, publicly or to the GAO, that they had stopped selling oil products to Iran.

The GAO found that three different firms – Russia’s Lukoil, Malayasia’s Petronas, and Kuwait’s IPG – had also sold petroleum products to Iran during the January 2009 to June 2010 time period. These three firms, however, appear to have ended gasoline and fuel sales to Iran ahead of the passage of the latest round of U.S. sanctions.

IPG was the only firm among the three to contact the GAO and tell the agency it had made fuel sales to Iran. None of the firms told GAO whether or not they had ended fuel sales to Iran.

Seven other firms were identified by the GAO as having sold fuel to Iran during the January 2009 to June 2010 period but had confirmed that they had stopped ahead of the most recent sanctions resolution. Those firms, including Royal Dutch Shell and France’s Total, confirmed that they had sold fuel to Iran in 2009 and 2010, but told the GAO that they had ended the sales.

Only one of the 16 firms identified by the GAO – BP Global – disputed the agency’s findings. The GAO found that BP had sold fuel to Iran in both 2009 and 2010, according to some of the open sources it examined. Other sources indicated that BP had stopped selling fuel to Iran in 2008.

Among the 16 firms identified by the GAO, three had contracts with the federal government in fiscal years 2009 and 2010, the time during which they were selling fuel to Iran. One of those firms, the state oil company of the UAE, was also on the list of firms that are probably still selling fuel to Iran.

Another firm, France’s Total, had sold fuel to Iran while it had $131 million in federal defense contracts but told the GAO it had stopped the fuel sales in May 2010.

The third firm, BP Global, had the largest contracts with the federal government. Valued at a combined $2.2 million over fiscal years 2009 and 2010, BP supplied large amounts of jet and turbine fuel to the Defense Department.

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