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Iran becomes second largest oil supplier to India

Despite mounting pressure from US for reducing Iranian oil imports to “zero” by November 4 this year, Iran was the second largest oil supplier to Indian state owned refiners between April and June, replacing Saudi Arabia as companies took advantage of steeper discounts offered by Tehran.

This was disclosed by Oil and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday in Lok Sabha. He said that the Indian oil imports from Iran in the first three months of this year have totalled 5.67 million tonnes, more than the 5.22 MT from Saudi Arabia, and less than only the 7.27 MT import from Iraq among the countries in the Middle East.

He was responding to a question from Supriya Sule (NCP) and Mullappally Ramachandran (Cong). Besides the Middle East, Indian crude imports come from countries including Nigeria, Venezuela, Egypt, and now, the United States.

Read More: Germany asks India to continue buying oil from Iran

He did not provide comparable numbers from the year-ago period. But statistics reveal that India imported about 3.46 million tonnes, or about 279,000 bpd, from Iran between April and June last year.

Oil and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan

According to the reply by the minister, Indian Oil Corp, Chennai Petroleum Corp, Bharat Petroleum and its unit Bharat Oman Refineries Ltd, Hindustan Petroleum and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals – shipped in 9.8 million tonnes of Iranian oil in 2017/18, about a quarter less than a year ago.

For this fiscal year, the refiners had decided to almost double imports from Iran, which offered almost free shipping and extended credit period on oil sales.

During April-June quarter Iraq remained to be the top oil supplier to India. New Delhi shipped in 7.27 million tonnes of oil from Iraq, while shipments from Saudi Arabia totalled 5.22 million tonnes, making it the third largest supplier.

Read More: Iran accuses India of bowing to US pressure, warns of withdrawing privileges if it cuts oil import

US has been exerting pressure on India and other major buyers of Iranian oil to cut imports from the country after Washington withdrew from multilateral Iran-nuclear deal signed in 2005 nuclear deal and decided to re-impose sanctions on Iran.

Read More: India under US pressure to cut oil imports from Iran, Govt says exploring all options

According to US administration the first set of sanctions will take effect on Aug. 6 and the rest, notably in the petroleum sector, following a 180-day “wind-down period” ending on Nov. 4.

Earlier Iran was the third largest oil supplier for India, after Iraq and Saudi Arabia. For Iran, India has been the second largest buyer of its oil after China.

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