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U.S. welcomes move by Italy’s Edison to quit Iran energy sector

July 6, 2012

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Friday welcomed what it said was a decision by Italy’s Edison International to withdraw from Iran’s energy sector and scrap a multi-million dollar contract to explore Iran’s Dayyer natural gas field.

“We commend the commitments made by Edison International, and we hope that other firms will follow its lead,” the State Department said in a statement, adding that Edison had pledged not to engage in future business with Iran which might be subject to U.S. sanctions.

“As long as the company continues to act in accordance with its assurances, under the law it will not be subject to an investigation into past Iran-based activities,” the statement said.Edison joins a number of large energy firms, including Total and Royal Dutch Shell, that have pledged to stop doing business with Iran in order to escape potential U.S. sanctions designed to put pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.Others which have taken similar moves are Norway’s Statoil, Italy’s ENI and Inpex Corp of Japan, the State Department said.

“These companies have recognized the risks of doing business in Iran’s energy sector given Iran’s proliferation activities, support for terror networks around the world, and other destabilizing actions,” the State Department said.

Edison signed a $107 million contract with Iran’s national oil company NIOC in 2008 to help develop the 3,281 square-mile (8,500 square-km) Dayyer offshore block, and was one of 16 non-U.S. companies listed in a U.S. government report in 2011 as having commercial interests in Iran’s oil, gas and petrochemical sectors.

The United States and the European Union have tightened sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program, which they fear is aimed at producing an atomic weapon. Iran denies the charge, saying its program is purely for peaceful purposes.

(Reporting By Andrew Quinn; Editing by Bill Trott and Vicki Allen)

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