Sunday, 22 July, 2018

Iran threat to pull out oil cushion

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Priscilla Morrison | 11 July, 2018, 19:31

Iran's Deputy Ambassador and Charge d'Affaires Massoud Rezvanian Rahaghi said Iran will end the privileges being provided to India if it tries to source oil from countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq, the USA and others to offset cuts in Iranian oil.

After scaling imports to around 770,000 barrels per day in May, imports from Iran were down to 570,000 bpd in June as India considers acquiescing to US President Donald Trump's demands for ending oil imports from Iran by November 4.

The Iranian Deputy ambassador to India, Massoud Rezvanian Rahaghi said Iran will cut off privileges given to India if the oil market is saturated by other suppliers, such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq or the United States.

Iran was India's second biggest supplier of crude oil after Saudi Arabia till 2010-11 but western sanctions over its suspected nuclear programme pushed it to the 7th spot in the subsequent years.

Iran's foreign ministry and the central bank have taken measures to facilitate banking operations despite the U.S. sanctions, Jahangiri said without elaborating.

Earlier, the U.S. has told India and other countries to cut oil imports from Iran to "zero" by November 4 or face sanctions.

The Trump administration has moved in recent months to impose penalties on Iranian individuals and entities, and senior US officials have said that Washington has begun pressing other countries to end Iranian oil imports by November.

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India is also expected to convey to the U.S. the importance of the Chabahar port project considering that it can be a major link for trade with war-ravaged Afghanistan.

"The lifting of force majeure at all the Libyan ports will certainly come as relief from a supply perspective, but it remains to be seen how quickly exports can return to normal", Harry Tchilinguirian, head of oil strategy at BNP Paribas, told Reuters Global Oil Forum.

Russia's Rosneft-based Nayara Energy and private sector Reliance Industries as well as state-owned Indian Oil Corp (IOC) showed lesser Iranian purchases, but Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MPRL) sourced more oil. The two firms significantly cut their imports from Iran in June.

State refiners, accounting for about 60 percent of India's almost 5 million bpd of refining capacity, lifted 10 percent more Iranian volumes in June compared to May, at about 454,000 bpd, the data from the sources showed.

Following Trump's announcement, companies are not allowed to strike new deals in the Iranian oil and energy sector. The sources declined to be identified since they are not authorized to speak to the media.

But, it still could continue imports if Iran accepts an alternative payment or offers a longer credit period. Iran supplied 18.4 million tonnes of crude oil between April 2017 and January 2018 (first 10 months of fiscal 2017-18).

The US secretary of state is in the Belgian capital Brussels, where he plans to hold meetings with European Union officials to step up pressure on Iran.

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