( AFP ) - Italy's ENI will continue to do business in Iran amid American pressure for companies to cut investment in the country, ENI's chief executive said in an interview published Wednesday.
Paolo Scaroni told the Financial Times from Rome that ENI "will stick to our contracts," adding that it was not "appropriate" for anyone to force ENI to not honour those contracts.
Responding to questions about whether American shareholders would put pressure on the company, Scaroni said he expected them to "react to a major move on Iran."
"But we are not there yet."
Scaroni said ENI was waiting for Iran and the West to eventually get their relations "on a reasonable footing".
The United States slapped a fresh round of sanctions on Iran last month, amid an ongoing row between Iran and the West over the Islamic Republic's controversial nuclear programme.
Israel and the West fear that Iran's nuclear programme is cover for a drive to develop a nuclear weapon but Iran insists it is aimed solely at producing electricity for a growing population once fossil fuels run out.
Scaroni told the business daily that he did not know of any major western energy companies investing in Iran, suggesting Iran would have to look for other investors for new oil exploration licenses.
"Maybe the Chinese," he said.
Separately, Scaroni also said that Europe was "sleepwalking" into a "staggering" dependence on gas imported from outside the continent, while also predicting that gas prices would inevitably rise for European customers.
According to the FT, however, his primary concern was the security of the supply of gas, telling the paper: "Gas is a much more fragile product (than oil), more difficult to deliver to customers."