India's 2018/19 Iran oil imports up 5% despite US sanctions

Around 5 percent boost was registered in Iranian oil reaching India, with refiner shipping standing at 479,500 barrels per day (bpd).

The European refiners pay the price for the USA oil sanctions on Iran and Venezuela as they are trying to replace the sour crude America blocked from the global market with Russian oil, as Reuters reported.

This figure is a jump from the 458,000 bpd reaching India from Iran a year earlier, preliminary tanker arrival data revealed. Although not all Indian refiners continued purchases because private companies with exposure to the US financial system were wary of secondary sanctions if they buy oil from Iran, India used up its 300,000 bpd quota allowed under the current exemption.

Iran was the eighth biggest oil supplier to India in February compared with seventh in January, and slipped from third position it held a year ago, the data showed.

Iran was hoping to sell more than 500,000 bpd of oil to India in 2018/19, its oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said previous year, and had offered nearly free shipping and an extended credit period to boost sales to the country.

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India-alongside seven other Iranian oil customers including the biggest buyer China-received a US waiver to continue buying Iranian oil, at a rate of around 300,000 bpd.

The drop in availability of Iranian or Venezuelan exports - which are largely untouchable due to pressure on foreign companies from the State Department - has led to a scramble among buyers for Russian-manufactured Urals oil.

Indian refiners have not yet placed orders to lift Iranian oil in May pending clarity on whether Washington will extend a the sanctions waiver.

India wants to keep buying Iranian oil at a level of 300,000 bpd, Indian sources said last month.

Refiners placed orders to buy 8 million barrels in April but India would receive higher volumes as some delayed cargoes of March arrive at Indian ports this month.

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