India to resume crude imports from Iran if US bans eased: Oil company

Chairman of India’s state-run Hindustan Petroleum Corp suggests that the country would not hesitate to resume crude imports from Iran once the United States eases its bans on Tehran and allows shipments be purchased by Indian refineries.

“Iranian crude had been in the (import) basket of Indian refineries … we will be happy to take that crude as and when the situation warrants and the crude is available,” M.K. Surana said on Thursday.

The comments come against the backdrop of reports suggesting that a newly-inaugurated administration in Washington is seeking to ease sanctions that were imposed in 2018 on Iran’s sale of crude.

India, the third largest importer and consumer of oil in the world, was Iran’s second top crude buyer before it halted imports from Iran after the US toughened its sanctions in mid-2019.

Indian oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan said last year after incumbent President Joe Biden won elections in the US that the New Delhi would seek to have supplies from Iran and Venezuela restored under Biden.

Surana said buying Iranian oil would be “preferential” for Indian refineries compared to other grades mainly because Iran offers favorable terms for payment and freight discounts.

The official said that Indian refineries have been importing crude from suppliers like the US over the past two years in the absence of Iranian crude in the market.

“There are alternatives in the picture after that (sanctions) … But yes, there is possibility. If the (Iranian) crude is available people will definitely look at those options,” he said.