``Iranian officials, concerned about selling a flood of new oil exports on the cheap, said they are studying options such as bartering the country's crude for European goods, investing in foreign refineries and changing the benchmark used to price its petroleum.


Iranian officials regard bartering as a creative way to compete in the price war without underselling the country's crude. Over the past several years, Iran has bartered with countries that didn't impose sanctions, including China, India and South Korea. The proceeds of oil sales to these countries bought anything from mobile phones to railway equipment.


With European buyers, Iranian officials said, locking up oil sales into a broader relationship would provide a competitive advantage against Saudi Arabia, which has a smaller population and less-industrialized economy. For example, Italy and Spain--two customers forced to stop buying from Tehran due to sanctions--have also been historically sizable exporters of machinery and other goods to the Iran.

"We don't necessarily have to compete on price," Hamid Hosseini, head of Iran's oil exporters union, said in an interview. "There are plenty of things the Saudis can't do."

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