Oil prices tumbled on Thursday in a late sell-off sparked by a report that a proposed European Union ban on imports of Iranian crude would be phased in over six months, reinforcing news already published by Reuters. 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. The embargo adds to pressure from the West to curb Iran’s nuclear program.
Having traded higher for most of the day, oil prices dropped soon after 2 p.m. EST (1900 GMT) following a Bloomberg News report, citing an unidentified EU official with knowledge of the matter, that the embargo would be delayed or phased in over six months.
“It’s not surprising to me that the European Union would delay the Iranian embargo as doing it now would have come at the worse possible time, amid austerity measures being taken as they have a lot of economic problems,” Peter Beutel, president of trading consultants told Reuters.