TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran has slashed the use of the dollar in payment for its oil exports to 15 percent, an official said on Tuesday, amid growing pressure from arch-foe the United States on its financial system.
The vast majority of transactions for oil from OPEC’s number two producer are now being carried out in euros, said Mohammad-Ali Khatibi, deputy head of the National Iranian Oil Company in charge of marketing.
“Iran is selling about 85 percent of its oil in the non-dollar currencies,” Khatibi was quoted as saying by state television.
“Currently, about 65 percent of the oil sale income is in euros and 20 percent in yen,” Khatibi added.
Japan, which purchases 20 percent of Iran’s crude oil, has recently agreed to pay for the crude oil in yen, he said.
He also said that the remaining sums being paid in dollars, about 15 percent, are going to shift to “other creditworthy currencies”.
Khatibi also cited the United Arab Emirates dirham as one other possible currency for use in oil transactions.
He said the main reason for the move was fluctuations of the dollar on the currency markets and the depreciation of its value since 2004.
Iran had previously announced that 60 percent of its oil transactions for export had been switched into euros.
Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil exporter, has massively cut down its dependence on the dollar in the face of US pressures.
The United States has been seeking to make international banking transactions harder for Iran, as another tool to pressure Tehran into backing down over its controversial nuclear programme.
Several European banks have drastically cut business with Iran as a result of US pressure.
However despite problems with inflation and unemployment at home, Iran’s economy is being helped by revenue windfalls from current high crude oil prices.
Iran’s foreign currency reserves held in banks abroad have risen by 37 percent over the past year to the equivalent of 65 billion dollars as of the end of June 2007, the central bank said in September.