Oil major Royal Dutch Shell lost money trading Iranian crude in 2012 shortly before a European Union embargo and still owes $2.3 billion to Tehran for oil purchases, Reuters reported.
The details, revealed in Shell regulatory filings, is the first disclosure of its dealings with Iran in 2012, when it kept buying Tehran's oil right up to the mid-year EU embargo deadline.
The loss raises questions about Shell's decision to continue trading with Iran in the first half of 2012, taking advantage of an exception for pre-existing contracts, when many of its rivals had stopped.
The firm said its trading division generated a gross revenue of $481 million in 2012 on Iranian oil purchases and a net loss of $6 million. Condensate and fuel oil purchases from Iran generated a gross revenue of $631 million and a net profit of $4 million, failing to compensate for the loss in crude.
"None of these purchases has been paid for, and all contracts were terminated and activities ceased before June 28, 2012," said Shell referring to the date when sanctions on Iranian oil came into force.
"Currently, we have approximately $2,336 million payable to, and $11 million receivable from, National Iranian Oil Company. We are unable to settle the payable position as a result of applicable sanctions," Shell said.
Shell suspended all trade with Iran before June but failed to settle its accounts with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) ahead of the embargo, which was imposed as part of the West's standoff with Iran over Tehran's nuclear programme.
Shell ceased upstream activities and suspended new business developments in Iran back in 2010 and is closing its representative office in Iran, it said.