MOSCOW, April 4 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Cabinet of Ministers is discussing a new scheme for possible Iran oil deliveries via an independent trader, instead of Russia's oil giant Rosneft, the Kommersant business daily said Friday, citing Russian government sources.
"This will be a company registered in Russia, which does not work on the international markers, as opposed to Rosneft. In other words, there will be no pressure tools on it," Prime business news agency cited Kommersant sources as saying.
According to unofficial reports, the talks between Iran and Russia's Ministry of Energy are overseen by the Russian Energy Agency, led by the former first deputy chairman of Vnesheconombank (VEB), Anatoly Tikhonov. The ministry has declined to comment.
Russia and Iran have been negotiating a deal that could see Moscow buy up to 500,000 barrels of Iranian oil daily in exchange for Russian equipment and goods. The talks reached progress late last year, ahead of the sanctions relief for Tehran under the November nuclear deal struck by world powers and Iran's government.
"Physically taking these 500,000 barrels would be difficult," a source told Kommersant, adding that Iran's main oil deposits are far way from the Caspian Sea and there is yet no infrastructure for such oil deliveries.
One of Kommersant sources said it was important for Russia to secure part of the Iranian oil volumes, while adding that theoretically there is an option to export oil to China via Kazakhstan. "But it will be difficult to agree with Kazakh partners, who are interested in own projects," the report said.
The deal could be worth up to $20 billion, according to Iran's Press TV report.
Washington earlier said the deal would be in defiance of the Western sanctions that helped force Iran to sign a deal to end its nuclear program, while Russia maintains it has no existing sanctions against Iran and is free to reach such a deal.
The P5+1 group of world powers, which comprises the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, finalized a deal in mid-January to ease some economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for it temporarily freezing some aspects of its nuclear program.