India may continue to import oil from Iran, says Petroleum Minister

US considers sanction waivers on countries reducing imports of Iranian oil

File image of Dharmendra Pradhan.

"We do not know if we will get waiver [from United States sanctions] or not", Pradhan said while speaking at The Energy Forum in New Delhi.

Later, talking to reporters, he said India has its own energy requirements which it has to fulfill.

"It has been quite a tough process to negotiate", said Sanjay Sudhir, a joint secretary handling global cooperation in the Oil Ministry, in reference to efforts to diversify supplies and reduce Iranian imports. Speaking to media, IndianOil chairman Sanjiv Singh confirmed his company was among the two which contracted Iranian supplies in November. "We have ordered for our usual quantity of oil", he said while adding that they were discussing payment options. Oil prices could be more vulnerable than usual to hints, news, and comments until the USA sanctions on Iran return in four weeks.

Further weighing on oil prices was "chatter that Saudi Arabia has replaced all of Iran's lost oil", said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore. "So let us see how it evolves", he said.

"India is continuing with its relationship with both its key energy partners Iran and the USA", a second source said. It had planned to import 9 MT of Iranian oil in 2018-19 financial year or 0.75 MT a month.

India also continued to buy Iranian oil in 2012-2015, but shipments had to be sharply reduced to avoid exposure to the USA financial system.

Oil prices rose on Tuesday as more evidence emerged that crude exports from Iran, OPEC's third-largest producer, are declining in the run-up to the re-imposition of US sanctions and as a hurricane moved across the Gulf of Mexico.

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Nayara Energy, formerly Essar Oil, too is stopping import from the Persian Gulf nation.

In May, Trump pulled the USA out of the Iran nuclear deal despite objection from the other signatories, the UK, Russia, Germany, China, and France, re-imposing sanctions lifted under the deal.

Pradhan said two state refineries have made nominations to purchase Iranian oil in November.

"Previously there was no European channel", the second source said.

UCO Bank had in the previous round of sanctions handled rupee payments. Zanganeh said such remarks had no "real impact on the market" but were part of a psychological war against Iran, Reuters reports. "Any country that makes such claims... just wants to display its support to the usa sanctions against Iran", Zanganeh said. It began clearing the dues in 2015 when the restrictions were eased.

The primary market driver, however, is a report which showed Iran's crude exports fell further in the first week of October, according to taker data and an industry source.

Iran is India's third-largest oil supplier behind Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

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