Despite reports suggesting that Iran is considering a halt to all oil exports to Europe as a response to European Union and US sanctions, the head of energy watchdog the International Energy Agency said that releasing reserves under its control is not something under consideration now.
Maria van der der Hoeven, the executive director of the IEA told CNBC on Thursday that "releasing strategic reserves would only be a question if there is a real and serious disruption of supply. And that is not the case at this moment."
Weighing in on the actual likelihood of Iran implementing a ban, van der Hoeven said that it was very difficult to predict what will happen. However, she explained: "As far as I can see now, Iran is very dependent on its oil exports to generate income. On the other hand, we all know what is going on, and many industries are already looking for alternatives if something like that happens."
In previous supply shocks, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states have stepped in to meet energy demand. Will they do it again to preserve stability? "Yes," van der Hoeven said, "at this moment, based on what I'm hearing from producers in the Gulf, I'm confident that they will do it again."
Commenting on the possibility of an Iranian ban on imports to Europe, Olivier Jakob from energy research firm Petromatrix wrote that "given that the EU embargo officially only starts in July, that would move Iran from being a 'victim' to being an aggressor and would also provide justification for the GCC countries to replace Iran, hence we are not sure that Iran has a lot to gain politically from being pro-active on sales restrictions to Europe."
On Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund warned that a halt in Iran oil could push crude prices up by 30 percent, or $20 to $30.