Singapore says did not import Iran crude last month

SINGAPORE, June 12: Singapore said today it did not import any Iranian crude oil last month and that it was in talks with the United States about getting an exemption from new sanctions that Washington is threatening to impose on countries that trade Iranian oil.
Singapore is not a big consumer of oil but is a major blender of fuel, including some from Iran. The city-state, a key Asian financial centre, will be seriously affected if its banks are targeted by Washington.
“Singapore would like to confirm that Singapore and the US are having constructive discussions on the import of Iranian crude oil and for an exception to the sanctions,” Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
“In May 2012, no Iranian crude oil was imported into Singapore,” the ministry added.
Washington is piling pressure on countries to stop imports of Iranian crude in a bid to disrupt Tehran’s nuclear programme.
Oil traders said officials in Singapore have been urging firms to stop dealing in Iranian oil and that imports had slowed to a trickle last month.
The United States extended exemptions from its new sanctions on Iran’s oil trade to seven more countries yesterday, leaving China and Singapore among those exposed to possible penalties at the end of June.
The lack of an exemption means Singapore banks and financial institutions found to have handled payments for Iranian oil could be cut off from the US finanical system when the new sanctions start.
But a US official said last week it would take some time for Washington to gather evidence to support punitive measures against banks that have processed oil transactions.