US tells India and others to end oil imports from Iran by Nov 4

Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday reacted cautiously to the US demand to stop crude imports from Iran, saying the government “will go by the national interest”.

Oil imports from Iran surged to about 705,000 barrels per day in May, the highest since last October, according to industry data, despite the threats of fresh US sanctions against Tehran after the US president Donald Trump had on May 8 unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal that his predecessor Obama had sewed up with Tehran.

In May, the volume rose 10.2 per cent over the previous month and about 45 per cent over the same month last year. While India is the second largest crude customer for Iran behind China, Iran is the third largest source of crude for the country after Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It supplied 18.4 million tonne crude in the April 2017-January 2018 period. With around 200 million barrels per annum,India is the third largest consumer of fossil fuels after the US and China and is one of the few markets that has a steady demand growth.

“We will go by our own interests,” Pradhan quipped cautiously when asked about his views on the latest US direction to the government to stop crude imports from Iran from November 4 or face economic sanctions. The Minister, who was here to attend the final leg of the roadshows for the ninth round of the city gas distribution auctions, further said, “Our source markets have widened massively in recent years. In fact, there is not a single oil producing country from where we don’t buy crude today. We have even placed contracts with Brunei. So there is no threat of supply disruptions.”