An EU embargo on oil imports from Iran may push world oil prices to $150 per barrel, the head of Iran’s state oil company said on Sunday.
"It seems that we will witness prices from $120 to $150 in the future," Ahmad Qalehbani, head of the National Iranian Oil Company, said in an interview with IRNA news agency.
The EU voted on Monday to ban oil imports from Iran. The move came after the Islamic Republic announced earlier this month that it had launched a nuclear enrichment program at a well-protected underground facility near the holy Shia city of Qom.
The program envisages enriching uranium to the 20-percent level, which can easily be turned into fissile warhead material.
The embargo is set to come into force in summer but Iran has said it may cut crude oil shipments to Europe early.
Qalehbani said Iran planned to expand oil consumption on the domestic market instead of sales on international markets. The EU accounts for just 18 percent of Iran’s oil output.
Western nations suspect Iran, which is already under numerous international sanctions, of pursuing a secret nuclear weapons program but Tehran insists it needs nuclear power solely for civilian purposes.
Iran has threatened to retaliate by blocking the Strait of Hormuz, the main export route for supplies from the Middle East.
The International Monetary Fund warned on Thursday that sanctions on Iran could push oil prices up 20-30 percent to $140 per barrel unless alternative supplies from developing countries came on line.