India’s Iranian Oil Imports Inch Up In September

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India imported 528,000 bpd of Iranian oil in September, up by 1 percent from August, due to delays of some August cargoes until Indian refiners received the government nod to import Iran’s oil on Iranian tankers with Iranian insurance, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing tanker data by shipping and industry sources.

India’s imports in August stood at 523,000 bpd, down by 32 percent compared to July, after the United States increased pressure on Iranian oil customers to significantly scale down purchases and outright stop buying Iranian oil with the U.S. sanctions on Tehran returning in early November.

Some 44 percent of the oil from Iran that arrived in India last month was initially planned to arrive in August, according to the tanker data and officials at two Indian state-run refiners, Reuters reports.

According to a Reuters source with an Indian state refiner, buyers had to delay some August loadings from Iran to later in August or early September, because they were still waiting for government approval to import Iranian oil with Iranian insurance and tankers.

“We could not lift full volumes in August because of this,” the source told Reuters.

Reports emerged in early September that India had given permission to state-owned refiners to import oil from Iran on Iranian tankers using Iranian-backed insurance, after the biggest Indian shipping company backed out of Iran voyages due to the U.S. sanctions.

India is Iran’s second-largest single oil customer after China and was expected to cut back on Iranian oil purchases, but is unlikely to cut off completely the cheap Iranian oil that is suitable for its refineries.

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Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, is set to deliver extra 4 million barrels of its oil to India in November, in what could be a Saudi move to replace lost Iranian barrels.

Earlier this week, Indian officials said that they hoped India could secure a waiver from the United States, because it has significantly reduced purchases of Iranian oil. Late last week, the United States hinted that it was at least considering waivers.

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