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Hillary praises oil firms’ cut in Iran imports

Despite plans to import 0.91 million tonnes of crude oil from Iran in the first quarter of this financial year,India’s three biggest state-run refineries

Written by Amitav Ranjan | New Delhi | Published: May 8, 2012 3:08 am

Despite plans to import 0.91 million tonnes of crude oil from Iran in the first quarter of this financial year,India’s three biggest state-run refineries — Indian Oil Corporation,Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum — have not lifted a drop of oil from that country so far. No lifting is scheduled this month either,a senior IOC official said.

Private refiner Essar Oil Ltd,however,picked up 0.78 million tonnes of its planned 1.23 million-tonne first quarter import. Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemicals lifted 0.16 million of the 0.55 million tonnes it had planned to lift before the start of the fiscal.

If the first quarter planned lifting is taken as the average for the entire year,India’s dependence on Iranian crude would fall to roughly 10.8 million tonnes in 2012-13,down 32 per cent from last year’s actual purchase of 15.8 million tonnes.

Last year’s import was 14.6 per cent lower than the 2010-11 buy of 18.5 million tonnes,largely due to cuts in the last quarter of 2011-12 following a petroleum ministry directive to bring down crude purchases from Tehran by at least 15 per cent,said the official.

These efforts earned praise from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today. “We commend the steps they have taken and we hope they will do even more,” she said in Kolkata,adding that the US decision on a sanctions waiver to India,similar to that given to Japan and the EU,would be made “in about two months from now”.

US sanctions over the past year have made it harder for India to pay in foreign currency,get insurance and provide for shipping of oil from its second-largest supplier. India has rejected Western sanctions and says it would follow bans mandated by the UN.

The US has given Iranian crude buyers until June 28 to reduce their purchases in an effort to cut money flow to Tehran which is allegedly funneling the funds to a nuclear arms programme.

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