According to preliminary data for tanker arrivals, obtained by Reuters from industry and shipping sources, India's imports of Iranian oil rose to around 479,500 bpd in the 2018/2019 Indian fiscal year ended last month, compared to some 458,000 bpd that Indian refiners imported in the 2017/2018 fiscal year. Since the first round of waivers expires on May 4, Iranian oil buyers including India, Japan, and South Korea are trying to convince the USA government to get another round of exemption from US sanctions to be able to keep buying crude from Iran.
The United States introduced sanctions in November but gave a six-month waiver to eight nations, including India, which allowed them to import some Iranian oil. March volumes were however about 6 percent lower than the purchase in the same month a year earlier.
Indian refiners Hindustan Petroleum Corp and Bharat Petroleum Corp, Mangalore Refinery and Petroleum Corp and Indian Oil Corp together lifted 1.25 million tonnes or 9 million barrels of Iranian oil in February.
Iran was hoping to sell more than 500,000 bpd of oil to India in 2018/19, its oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said previous year, and had offered nearly free shipping and an extended credit period to boost sales to the country.
In the first quarter of 2019, India shipped in about 40 percent less oil from Iran at about 313,400 bpd, the data showed. Indian refiners raised purchases from Iran in April-October 2018, drawn to nearly free shipping and extended credit offered by Tehran to boost sales. As expected, the surges in Iran's oil exports came after the country's Asian buyers rushed to use the opportunity that the waivers on US sanctions has provided.
"As a result, European refiners have been left competing to secure as much medium, sour Russian Urals as they can, pushing the differential of that oil to levels not seen since 2013", the news agency reports.