India loaded 12 pct less Iranian oil in June vs May on sanctions fear

Reuters – Indian refiners ordered about 12 percent less Iranian oil in June than in May, when the U.S. said it would reintroduce sanctions on Iran, but sales remained around 50 percent higher than a year ago.

Refiners in India, Iran’s top oil client after China, are weaning themselves away from Iranian oil after the U.S. pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal.

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.

Indian refiners bought around 664,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian oil in June, according to a statement presented by oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan in the lower house of parliament.

Although that represented a fall from the previous month, purchases were still higher than a year ago.

“Indian refineries imported 1.9 million tonnes of crude oil from Iran in June 2017 and placed orders for 2.82 million tonnes in June 2018,” Pradhan said in the statement.

India’s state-refiners, which account for about 60 percent of the nation’s overall 5 million bpd capacity, curbed Iranian imports in 2017/18 due to a row over the development rights of a giant gas field.

However, the state refiners raised imports in the current fiscal year starting in April after Iran offered free shipping and an extended credit period of 60 days.

Iran became the second biggest oil supplier to Indian state refiners after Iraq in the April to June period but India has warned of a drastic cut in imports from the OPEC member.

India loaded about 715,600 bpd oil from Tehran in the April-June 2018, a growth of about 45 percent from the previous quarter, the data presented in parliament showed.

India’s monthly oil imports from Iran declined by about 16 percent, according to tanker arrival data obtained from sources.

Iran is now offering to insure oil cargoes to India after some insurers stopped providing the service in the face of the impending sanctions.

Note: A conversion of 7.3 barrels oil in a tonne is used for calculation. (Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)