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Volatile oil prices in February

IRAN’s controversial nuclear programme was at the center of international tension that contributed to volatility in the oil markets in February, following the European Union's decision in January to impose an oil embargo on Iran starting July 1.

IRAN’s controversial nuclear programme was at the center of international tension that contributed to volatility in the oil markets in February, following the European Union's decision in January to impose an oil embargo on Iran starting July 1.

After a few days of contradicting reports, Iran halted its exports of oil to France and Britain on February 19.

The action was considered mostly symbolic as France and the UK account for only about 2 percent and 1 percent of Iran's oil exports, respectively.

The EU, however, imports about 20 percent of Iranian oil production, most of which flows to Greece, Italy and Spain.

EU member states now have until July 1 to switch suppliers but the onus is also on Iran to find new customers.

Other countries have also been busy finding their own oil supply alternatives amid the EU and US embargoes.

Japan, India and China are planning to cut about 10 percent of their Iranian oil imports despite a vow not to implement sanctions against Iran.

India is reportedly seeking to increase imports from Saudi Arabia by 4-5 billion barrels a year, although Indian Oil Minister Jaipal Reddy denied that the talks have a connection with the situation in any particular country.

The price of WTI Crude in New York increased throughout February, peaking at $109.49 per barrel on February 24. Brent oil in London hit its high on the same day at $127.12.

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