Reuters reports: Greece is relying on Iran for most of its oil as traders pull the plug on supplies and banks refuse to provide financing for fear that Athens will default on its debt.
Traders said Greece has turned to Iran as the supplier of last resort despite rising pressure from Washington and Brussels to stifle trade as part of a campaign against Tehran’s nuclear program.
The near paralysis of oil dealings with Greece, which has four refineries, shows how trade in Europe could stall due to a breakdown in trust caused by the euro zone debt crisis, which is threatening to spread to further countries.
“Companies like us cannot deal with them. There is too much risk. Maybe independent traders are more geared up for that,” said a trader with a major international oil company.
“Our finance department just refuses to deal with them. Not that they didn’t pay. It is just a precaution,” said a trader with a major trading house.
“We couldn’t find any bank willing to finance us. No bank wants to finance a deal for them. We missed some good opportunities there,” said a third trader.
More than two dozen European traders contacted by Reuters at oil majors and trading houses said the lack of bank financing has forced Greece to stop purchasing crude from Russia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in recent months.
Greece, with no domestic production, relies on oil imports and in 2010 imported 46 percent of its crude from Russia and 16 percent from Iran. Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan provided 10 percent each, Libya 9 percent and Iraq 7 percent, according to data from the European Union.
“They are really making no secret when you speak to them and say they are surviving on Iranian stuff because others will simply not sell to them in the current environment,” one trader in the Mediterranean said.