January 23rd, 2012

Crude oil futures rose as the European Union announced a phased-in embargo of Iranian (OPCRIRAN) crude in an effort to contain the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

The ban will be implemented in stages by July 1, Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal told reporters today in Brussels. The region bought 450,000 barrels a day of Iran’s oil in the first half of 2011, U.S. Energy Department data show. EU finance heads are meeting to craft a long-term plan to tackle the area’s debt crisis.

“It remains to be seen how the embargo will be implemented and therefore how prices will react,” said Christopher Bellew, a senior broker at Jefferies Bache Ltd. in London. “Sanctions would of course be more effective if the EU can persuade other buyers to join them. And full implementation has been delayed to July 1. A lot can happen in five months.”

Crude oil brent for March settlement gained as much as $1.33, or 1.2 percent, to $111.19 a barrel and was at $111.80 a barrel at 1:37 p.m. on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.

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