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BW Businessworld

Will Iran Come To India's Rescue For Meeting Crude Demand?

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India may turn to Iran this year for meeting its crude oil demand. The move has become necessary in the wake of attacks by al-Qaeda-inspired militants in Iraq who have seized a portion of the country posing a threat to the regional stability and crude oil exports from the Middle-East nation. Despite US sanction over imports from Iran, the Indian government is hoping to get the leeway because the Iraq crisis has brought US and Iran on the same table, giving hope of cooperation between the two nations.

Iran was the second largest crude oil supplier to India till 2010, when India started reducing its imports from the country under US pressure.

In FY14, India purchased 11 MT of crude oil from Iran, which was 50 per cent less than its peak import of 21.8 MT in 2008-09.

“We will have to meet our demand from somewhere. Now that the US and Iran are ready to work together on Iraq issue, we are sure that we will also be able to meet our requirements by engaging with Iran,” said an official in the Ministry Of Petroleum working on the contingency plan for crude imports.
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According to the Ministry of Oil and Natural Gas, India imported about 13 per cent of its crude oil requirements from Iraq last year. In the current year, government owned Oil Marketing Companies (OMC) had planned to import 19.4 Million Metric Tonnes, (about 20 per cent of total requirement) of crude oil from Iraq. The strife torn nation is the second largest crude oil producer in the OPEC group.
So far, the OMCs have imported 50 per cent of the planned quantity from Iraq. However, in case of increased tension in Iraq, India will have to increase have a contingency plan for meeting its crude oil requirement.

Former chairman, Indian Oil Corporation RS Butola told BW|Businessworld, “ The crude from Iran can replace crude from Iraq because it is of the same quality. However, we will have to see if the US is ready to ease its control on the issue as allowing India will mean giving exemption to other countries like China, Japan and South Korea.

India's oil purchases in the 2013-14 dropped 16.5 per cent to 222,000 bpd. In the wake of nuclear tension between the US and Iran, India was asked by the US to cut down its crude oil imports from Iran between 15 and 20 per cent per annum.

India planned to import 97 million tonnes of crude oil in  2014-15.


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