Essar cut Iran oil imports 53 pct in April y/y-trade data

NEW DELHI, June 7 (Reuters) – Essar Oil more than halved its oil imports from Iran in April, the first month of the contract year, from a year ago, data from trade sources showed, helping New Delhi win the latest renewal of a waiver from U.S. sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear plans.

Essar, India’s second-biggest private refiner after Reliance Industries, shipped in 55,600 barrels per day (bpd) from Iran in April compared with 117,600 bpd a year ago, tanker arrival data made available to Reuters showed.

However, the imports have jumped nearly 70 percent compared with March, the last month of the contract year, when the private refiner was trying to meet a planned 15 percent cut in its annual imports from Tehran.

India, the world’s fourth-biggest oil buyer and Iran’s top client after China, imported about 56.5 percent less oil overall from Iran in April, the data showed. The United States renewed six-month waivers on sanctions for India, China and seven other economies earlier this week in exchange for their agreement to reduce purchases of oil from Iran.

The sanctions from Washington and from the European Union aim to block Tehran’s oil revenue over its disputed nuclear ambitions, which they suspect is aimed at building weapons. Iran denies this claim. Sanctions pushed Iran’s oil exports to the lowest in decades in May, according to industry sources and tanker tracking data.

Two government-run refiners, Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corp, stopped importing oil from Iran from April as local insurers said they could no longer cover plants that process Iranian oil after Europe-based reinsurers backed out.

Essar continues using Iranian oil based on legal advice that EU sanctions are not applicable in this situation. But there is some uncertainty as it is up to reinsurers to interpret the sanctions.

Essar has significantly raised processing of heavy and ultra-heavy grades, including those from Latin America, to improve refining margins and replace Iranian oil.

In April, Essar imported about 45.5 percent of its crude oil needs from Latin American nations, the data showed.

No comment was available from Essar.

Following are details of Essar’s crude and condensate imports in April versus a year ago, according to the data. Volumes are in 1,000 bpd:

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 Region/        April   March     %chg   April     %chg    Jan-Apr.   Jan-Apr.    %chg
 Country         2013    2013   mth/mth   2012    yr/yr      2013       2013     yr/yr
 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Latam
 Brazil           0.0     0.0       --     0.0       --      17.6        0.0       --
 Colombia         0.0    69.4   -100.0     0.0       --      30.2        0.0       --
 Ecuador          0.0     0.0       --     0.0       --       6.7        0.0       --
 Mexico          70.8     0.0       --     0.0       --      35.4       16.8     110.7
 Venezuela       69.1    62.1     11.3    36.6     88.9      68.9        9.1     659.6
 TOTAL          139.9   131.4      6.4    36.6    282.6     158.8       25.9     513.7

 Middle East
 Neutral Zone     0.0    20.2   -100.0     0.0       --      10.3        0.0       --
 Oman            16.8    32.3    -48.0     0.0       --      12.5        0.0       --
 Iran            55.6    32.8     69.5   117.6    -52.7      64.7      151.5     -57.3
 Iraq            65.7   129.6    -49.3    66.5     -1.1      67.2       49.1      36.9
 Qatar           29.6    14.3    107.2    13.3    122.2      25.4       24.2       4.8
 S Arabia         0.0    20.8   -100.0     0.0       --      14.9        5.0     197.1
 UAE              0.0     0.0       --    18.7   -100.0       0.0       25.7    -100.0
 TOTAL          167.7   249.9    -32.9   216.0    -22.4     194.9      255.4     -23.7

 Africa
 Nigeria          0.0     0.0       --    30.3   -100.0       0.0        7.5    -100.0
 Egypt            0.0    17.5   -100.0     0.0       --       4.5        0.0        --
 TOTAL            0.0    17.5   -100.0    30.3   -100.0       4.5        7.5     -39.6

 Canada           0.0     0.0       --     0.0       --       2.6        0.0        --
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 TOTAL ALL      307.7   398.9    -22.9   282.9      8.8     360.9      288.8      24.9
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NOTE: The total may not tally as numbers in tonnes have been rounded off after converting them into barrels per day using a conversion factor of 7.2 barrels per tonne, divided by the number of days.

By Reuters


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