India's Iran oil imports up 5% last year despite US sanctions

India's Iran oil imports up 5% last year despite US sanctions

Between April and October 2018, India's refiners were buying more than usual Iranian oil because none of Iran's oil customers were certain that it would get a USA sanctions waiver to continue purchases from Iran after the sanctions were re-imposed in early November 2018.

This figure is a jump from the 458,000 bpd reaching India from Iran a year earlier, preliminary tanker arrival data revealed. Reuters reported Friday that us sanctions on oil from the two countries has led to a global shortage of "sour" oils, described as heavier than oil produced from countries such as the usa, which is experiencing record oil production of variants described as lighter and sweeter than its Russian, Venezuelan or Iranian competition.

Indian refiners Hindustan Petroleum Corp and Bharat Petroleum Corp, Mangalore Refinery and Petroleum Corp and Indian Oil Corp together lifted 1.25 million tonnes or 9 million barrels of Iranian oil in February.

A lack of ships delayed lifting of some cargoes to end-February, leading to higher arrivals in March, sources said.

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India's overall imports from Iran in 2018/19 were lower than the 500,000 bpd that Iran was hoping to sell to its second-biggest oil client after China.

The drop in availability of Iranian or Venezuelan exports - which are largely untouchable due to pressure on foreign companies from the State Department - has led to a scramble among buyers for Russian-manufactured Urals oil. Another major reason for increased Indian buying of Iranian oil before November was that Iran was offering very attractive terms to Indian buyers, including nearly free shipping and an extended credit period for payment.

"As a result, European refiners have been left competing to secure as much medium, sour Russian Urals as they can, pushing the differential of that oil to levels not seen since 2013", the news agency reports.

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