India’s December imports from Iran were 9.4 percent higher than its November purchases from the country when the delivery of some cargoes were delayed due to a lack of ships, the tanker arrival data showed.
Iran was the sixth biggest oil supplier to India in December compared to the third position it held a year ago and last month. Tehran’s share of India’s overall imports was 6.2 percent in 2018, the data showed.
In 2018 India shipped about 13 percent (531,000 bpd) more oil from Iran as the South Asian country’s refiners boosted their purchases ahead of discounts offered by Tehran.
Government sources say Reuters’ calculations showing India’s oil imports from Iran in this fiscal year would be higher than the 452,000 bpd, or 22.6 million tons.
During April-December 2018 – the first nine months of this fiscal year, India’s oil imports from Iran averaged about 533,800 bpd, up about 22 percent from a year ago, the data showed.
India’s total oil imports in December stood at about 4.9 bpd, up about 15 percent compared to the country’s crude purchases a in the same period a year ago.
Meanwhile, Indian commerce minister said that India will work with Iran without violating any international laws.
“India will not violate any international law and within the framework of international law, we would like to work with Iran in a manner that we can deal with rupee trade wherein both countries can trade the items of mutual interest,” Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu told reporters.
“So Iran wants to buy something from India and we want to buy oil,” the minister added, PTI reported.
In May, 2018, US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, reimposing unilateral economic sanctions against the Persian Gulf nation. Some sanctions took effect from August 6, 2018, while those affecting oil and banking sectors kicked in from November 4.
India's UCO Bank and IDBI Bank were identified to route the payment as the two have no exposure to the US financial system.
In 2013-14 and 2014-15, India bought 11 million tons and 10.95 million tons, respectively, from Iran.
Iranian oil is a lucrative buy for refiners as the Persian Gulf nation provides 60 days of credit for purchases, a term not available from substitute suppliers of crude – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Nigeria and the US.
Bilateral trade between India and Iran increased to $13.8 billion in 2017-18 from $12.9 billion in the previous fiscal year.