India’s oil imports from Iran surged to about 705,000
barrels per day (bpd) in May, their highest level since October 2016, according
to data from industry sources, despite the threats of fresh U.S. sanctions.
India was one of the very few countries which continued to import crude from
Iran during the last round of US sanctions against that country
Iran being the largest importer of non basmati
rice fresh fruits and vegetables from New Delhi, it was easier to continue
imports against rupee payment.
From June India’s oil imports from Iran could
drop because at least two refiners — accounting for about 35 percent of Indian
refining capacity of around 5 million bpd — are preparing to curb purchases
under pressure from the U.S. sanctions.
On May 8 U.S. President Donald Trump said that
the United States was pulling out of a 2015 international nuclear deal with
Iran and would impose new sanctions seeking to reduce the country’s oil
shipment. The patch up with North Korea is any indications, possibilities of a
similar deal between Washington and Tehran cannot be ruled out if only Israel
lowers its reservations on Iran’s nuclear program
India’s oil imports from Iran in May rose by 10.2
percent from April and were about 45 percent more than a year ago, the data
Iran’s oil exports hit 2.7 million bpd in May,
Iranian news agency IRNA reported this month, representing a record high since
the lifting of international sanctions on Tehran in 2016.
Indian state refiners had cut oil imports from
Iran in the 2017/18 financial year because of a dispute over development rights
for a giant gas field.
However, the refiners had drawn plans to raise
imports in the current fiscal year from April after Iran agreed to steep
India, the world’s third-biggest oil importer and
consumer, is Iran’s second-biggest customer behind China.
Nayara Energy, formerly known as Essar Oil and in
which Russia’s Rosneft holds a majority stake, has started reducing Iranian oil
imports from this month, sources said. In May Nayara was the biggest Indian
buyer of Iranian oil, receiving more than 200,000 bpd, the data showed.
Reliance Industries, owner of the world’s biggest
refining complex, is preparing to halt imports of Iranian oil from October or
November, sources said.
India’s oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan last week
said the country has adopted a “wait and watch” policy pending clarity on the
impact of U.S. sanctions.
Iran remained the third-biggest oil supplier to
India last month behind Iraq and Saudi Arabia, the data showed, with the United
Arab Emirates having replaced Venezuela as the fourth-biggest supplier.
Overall, India imported 4.34 million bpd in May,
about 2.8 percent higher than a year ago.
The U.S. sanctions on Iran’s petroleum industry
will take effect after a 180-day “wind-down period” ending on Nov. 4, but many
European refiners and Asian buyers are already winding down Iranian oil