Iran denies drop in India oil imports, predicts rise

KONFRONTASI-Iran’s Ministry of Petroleum has dismissed reports of a decline in oil exports to India, saying the South Asian country’s imports in fact hit an unprecedented record of 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) in April.

“This volume of Iranian oil sales to India is unprecedented,” the ministry said in a statement in reaction to a report by Reuters that India’s shipments from Iran were down 15%.

“India is the second biggest customer of Iran’s crude oil after China. It did not cut purchases during the time of sanctions even though the United States put a lot of pressures on New Delhi to do so,” Tasnim news agency quoted the statement as saying.

According to the report, Indian refiners bought 450,000 bpd of Iranian oil on average during the fiscal of 2017-1018. The biggest purchase came in July when they lifted 500,000 bpd.

Overall, India’s shipments of Iranian oil dropped last year compared with the year before but they are on course to rise in the 2017-2018 fiscal, the report added.

On Monday, Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh said Iran’s crude and condensate exports recovered from a fall in March and currently stand at 2.5 million bpd.

Iran, the third biggest OPEC producer, saw March liftings drop 26% year on year but Zangeneh said the decline was temporary.

“It has increased now and currently all together we export 2.5 million barrels of oil and gas condensates,” he said.

Zangeneh also said his ministry was up in arms against possible fallout from President Donald Trump’s decision on whether to reimpose US sanctions on Iran next month.    

“We have to wait for Trump’s decision. But Iran will use all its capacity and experience to protect the country against the consequences of Trump’s decision,” the minister said.

Zangeneh also appeared open to possible discounts on oil sales in order to preserve Iran’s market share which the country has diligently fought to regain since the lifting of sanctions in early 2016.

“Iran will take all the necessary measures to keep its oil market share because of the political atmosphere and the American president’s decision on the deal,” he said as he rejected reports of Iran having given any discounts to India.

“We have not given a special discount to India but it is possible to make changes in our prices,” he said.

State-owned Indian refiners announced their plans to raise oil purchases from Iran when President Hassan Rouhani visited New Delhi in February.

Zangeneh told reporters after meeting Indian Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan that India’s state-owned companies were going to increase their level of Iranian oil purchase. 

Before the visit, the Indian government had reportedly ordered refiners to import less oil from Iran in retaliation for Tehran’s refusal to grant development of the offshore Farzad B gas field in the Persian Gulf to Indians.

In New Delhi, Zangeneh also said the two countries had resolved differences over the field, suggesting that a deal between the two countries over the project could be imminent.[mr/ptv]