IEA: EU Could Withstand Iran Oil Halt

The European Union could cope with an abrupt halt by Iran of its oil exports to the region as buyers of Iranian oil are already adjusting to the EU's forthcoming ban on Iranian shipments, an International Energy Agency official said on Monday.

Iran said over the weekend it was cutting supplies to the UK and France.

"We don't think this announcement will have a real impact on the market because France and the UK have already stopped buying crude from Iran," Didier Houssin, director of energy markets and security of the International Energy Agency, told Reuters.

"If such a move were taken by Iran to immediately stop exports, we don't think it would have a very significant impact on the market. Because again the customers are already adjusting to the new environment...Seoond, we are getting close to the end of the winter period and the second quarter is typically when European refiners go for maintenance."

The IEA is ready if needed to use its strategic oil reserves, he said.

"We are monitoring the situation carefully as we usually do... We stand ready to react if needed," he said.

(Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov)