Reuters: Oil imports from Iran fell 34.2 percent in April from March, data from trade sources showed on Wednesday, bolstering the country’s case for the renewal of a waiver from US sanctions on Tehran due to expire next month. NEW DELHI (Reuters ) – Oil imports from Iran fell 34.2 percent in April from March, data from trade sources showed on Wednesday, bolstering the country’s case for the renewal of a waiver from US sanctions on Tehran due to expire next month.
The US has already granted fresh waivers to Japan and 10 European countries but has so far left out China and India, Iran’s biggest clients.
US and European Union sanctions aimed at choking the flow of oil money into Iran and forcing Tehran to negotiate curbing its controversial nuclear programme slashed its crude exports in half in 2012, costing it as much as $5 billion a month.
Indian imports dropped 56.5 per cent to 117,300 barrels per day (bpd) in April from the year before, the first month of the new contract year, with Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd declining to make fresh purchases as problems emerged in getting insurance for handling cargoes from Iran.
Worried about running afoul of sanctions, Indian insurers have warned that they will not be able to pay claims at plants processing Iranian crude.
New Delhi is considering a special fund to help on insurance but this likely to be too little to reassure refiners unless it is backed by sovereign guarantees.
Washington in December renewed 180-day waivers to all of Iran’s major crude buyers from sanctions targeted at financial institutions after they cut imports significantly.
India imported 46.3 per cent less oil from Iran in January-April than a year ago, replacing it with shipments from Venezuela, Iraq and Oman, the data showed.
The decline in India’s oil imports from Iran in in the first quarter is steeper than a 28.4 per cent cut by South Korea and an increase of 11 per cent by China.
Iran contributed 5.5 per cent of all India’s oil imports in that period, compared with 11.2 per cent a year ago. That meant it slipped to seventh place among India’s oil suppliers, down from No.3 a year ago.
India almost doubled imports from Latin America in the January-April period, with the region accounting for about a fifth of overall imports, up from around 11 per cent a year ago.
Overall, Asia’s third-largest economy shipped in nearly 10 per cent more oil in April than a year ago, at about 4 million bpd, while imports in the January-April period rose about 8 per cent to 3.9 million bpd, the data showed.
India shipped in more oil from Iran in April compared to 123,000 bpd showed in Tehran’s loading plan as MRPL and HPCL received one cargo each in the month against purchases made in March.
Processing of these cargoes by the two refiners will be coverd under their existing insurance policies, that will be renewed by end-May or early June.