NAIROBI, July 2 (Reuters) - Kenya has agreed to import 4 million tonnes of Iranian crude oil per year, a senior Kenyan energy official said on Monday.
Patrick Nyoike, permanent secretary at the energy ministry, said the two governments signed the memorandum of understanding on the oil last month. He did not say how many years the agreement covered.
“The details will come later,” Nyoike told Reuters by telephone, declining to comment on how the deal sits with U.S. and European Union (EU) sanctions against Iranian oil exports.
Most other importers of Iranian crude oil have sharply reduced purchases to earn exemptions from U.S. financial sanctions.
The European sanctions - including a ban on imports of Iranian oil by EU states and measures that make it difficult for other countries to trade with Iran - came into effect on Sunday. [ID;nL6E8I15SA]
Lawmakers from the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are meanwhile working to finalise a new package of sanctions aimed at further reducing oil and other revenues used by Iran to further its nuclear program.
Nyoike said the crude would total about 30 million barrels over one year, equivalent to around 80,000 barrels per day.
Kenya’s only refinery said last month it would start buying its own crude oil. It processes 1.6 million tonnes a year.
Kenya has signed similar memorandums deals before.
Under President Mwai Kibaki, the east African nation has increasingly turned to new economic partners, forging close ties with nations like China and Libya under Muammar Gaddafi’s leadership.
The shift in foreign policy stance has sometimes caused unease among its traditional western allies. Kenya is a key strategic ally in the U.S. led fight against militant Islam. (Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Richard Lough and Anthony Barker)