Shell buying oil from Iran
Shell, the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, paid the state-owned Iranian oil company at least $1.5bn (£0.94bn) for crude oil this summer, increasing its business with Tehran as the international community implemented some of the toughest sanctions yet aimed at constricting the Islamic republic's economy and its lifeline oil business.Shell makes good gas, but this was a bad decision that could cost them business. It could have just been a rogue trader who saw a bargain and jumped on it, but if it is company policy it is a serious mistake.
Sensitive trading documents seen by the Guardian show the UK-registered company stepped up its orders of Iranian oil at a time when other major buyers, including BP and Reliance Industries, India's largest conglomerate, halted orders amid impending trade sanctions aimed at curbing Tehran's perceived desire to acquire nuclear weapons.
Shell is not accused of acting illegally because the sanctions – enforced by the US, UN and EU – stopped short of banning the import of Iranian oil. But its trades with the state-owned oil company, a major contributor to the finances of a government which has made its nuclear programme a priority, are likely to expose Shell to growing political pressure.
Following the UN and EU sanctions, William Hague, the British foreign secretary, reaffirmed that the UK does not encourage trade with or investment in Iran because of "serious concerns about the nature of Iran's nuclear programme".