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NEW DELHI: India’s imports of oil from Iran rose 3.7 percent in January from December, but overall purchases fell 21.8 percent in the first 10 months, data from trade sources shows, as New Delhi cut dependence on Tehran under the pressure of sanctions.
European Union and US sanctions aimed at forcing Iran to curb its disputed nuclear programme have more than halved Iran’s oil exports in 2012. The West believes Tehran’s nuclear programme is aimed at making a bomb, but Iran denies this claim.
Iran’s major Asian clients — China, India, Japan and South Korea — have all cut imports heavily to secure waivers and continued access to the US financial system. New Delhi, Tehran’s top oil client after China, has reduced Iran’s role as a supplier, so that it contributed about 7.4 percent of all imports in the period from last April to January, compared to 10.7 percent a year earlier.
India is now paying Iran only in rupees for its oil after it lost another payment route in euros through Turkey’s Halkbank after the United States toughened sanctions from February 6, sources at domestic refiners said.
India plans to reduce imports from Iran by another 10 to 15 percent in the next contract year starting April 1, and more if Tehran does not lower prices to help cover costs resulting from Western sanctions, sources have said.
Indian oil firms are constantly diversifying their crude basket to eliminate dependence on any particular country or region, junior oil minister Panabaaka Lakshmi told lawmakers yesterday. New Delhi shipped in about 286,400 barrels per day (b/d) of oil from Iran in January, a decline of 41.2 percent from around 486,600 b/d of a year ago, the data showed.
Refiners adjust crude purchases from month to month to tweak their product slate as they try to maximise profit margins. Hindustan Petroleum Corp may have to halt Iranian oil imports from June as sanctions could mean its refineries cannot renew insurance to process the crude. It boosted purchases from Iraq to make up for the loss of Iranian barrels. India shipped in about 272,300 b/d oil from Iran in the period from April to January, the data showed, below the government’s target of 310,000 b/d for this fiscal year ending March 31, 2013.Reuters