April 20, 2010 | Quote

Lukoil Pulls Out of Iran to Applause

The decision by Russian energy giant Lukoil to stop shipping gasoline to Iran shows its activity on the world stage is unattractive to investors, advocates say.

Oil trader Lukoil said it would stop its occasional gasoline shipments to Iran, adding its name to a growing list of companies pulling out of the country.

Western countries are putting pressure on the Iranian energy sector as punishment for maintaining a controversial nuclear program.

Mark Dubowitz, the executive director at Washington policy center Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said the decision by Lukoil is evidence that economic pressure on Iran is having a major impact.

“Significantly, it’s not only Iran’s gasoline suppliers exiting the market, but also energy investors, banks, technology providers, and insurers who also face growing pressure to decide between doing business with the Iranian regime and continuing their business relationships in the lucrative U.S. market,” he said.

Lukoil has around 2,000 retail gasoline stations in the United States.

Lukoil announced in March it was suspending work on the Anaran oil project in Iran because of international pressure. The company said at the time it would return to Iran “under a favorable economic situation.”

Vitol, one of the world’s largest oil and gas traders, halted its work with Iran earlier this year.

Iran, for its part, said the pressure is incentive to move toward self-sufficiency for gasoline.