VENTURES AFRICA – South African crude oil imports from Iran increased from zero in January to an astonishing $364 million in February.
According to Reuters reports, the development dashes views that Pretoria has bowed to US pressure to halt trade links with Tehran.
Africa’s biggest economy imported 417,000 tonnes of Iranian oil in February, a dramatic reversal of a declining trend seen since October, when it imported 467,000 tonnes.
South Africa has come under Western pressure to curb Iranian crude imports as part of sanctions on Tehran’s suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Although it has been unclear how diplomatically non-aligned Pretoria is responding, the news coupled with that of MTN alleged bribery of SA and Iranian officials to win the telecoms license in the oil-ruch gulf state perhaps gives credence to media speculations. Contradictory statements by senior energy and foreign ministry officials further fuels speculations as to the status of Iranian imports.
Iran has been South Africa’s biggest crude supplier, accounting for a quarter of its oil imports. However, internation trade sanctions on Tehran has seen South Africa forced to find new suppliers for the much need product.