New Delhi: India’s imports of Iranian crude oil rose last month to their highest level since March 2014 as refiners boosted purchases ahead of a final push by international negotiators to reach a deal on Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme by end-June.
The jump to a 14-month high comes just two months after India dropped its crude imports from Iran to zero under US pressure to limit its purchases of the Islamic republic’s oil. In March this year India did not take any Iranian oil for the first time in at least a decade.
Many analysts say Tehran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China will reach an agreement by or shortly after a 30 June deadline for a deal, although the sanctions that have cut Iran’s oil exports to less than half of pre-2012 levels aren’t likely to be lifted until next year.
The United States and its five partners have agreed on a way to restore UN sanctions on Iran if the country breaks the terms of any future nuclear deal, clearing one major obstacle to an accord ahead of the deadline, although many other issues still need to be resolved.
India, the world’s fourth biggest oil consumer and Tehran’s top client after China, shipped in 367,900 barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian crude in May in nine vessels, up 39% over April, according to preliminary data from trade sources and a report compiled by Thomson Reuters Oil Research and Forecasts.
The May imports surged by two-thirds from a year ago, the data also showed.
Still, over January-May, India took 203,100 bpd from Iran, about 33% less oil than in the same period last year, as the nation’s refiners cut imports in the first quarter to keep overall imports from the OPEC producer to a 2013/14 level of about 220,000 bpd.
Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemical Ltd was Iran’s biggest Indian client in May shipping in about 207,400 bpd from Iran, the data showed.
MRPL stepped up purchases in May ahead of a three-month shutdown during the coming monsoon season of a single point mooring site that allows it to import oil in very large crude carriers, a trade source said.
Indian Oil Corp., the country’s biggest refiner, received about a million barrels of Iranian oil in May, the data also showed.
In the first two months of the fiscal year that began in April India’s Iran oil imports surged by 42% to 316,800 bpd, the data showed.
Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful and rejects allegations from Western countries that it wants the capability to produce atomic weapons. Reuters
Source: Mint; 02 June 2015