NEW DELHI, March 14 (Reuters) – India’s oil imports from Iran in February plunged by over 60 percent from a year ago to about 260,000 barrels per day (bpd) as New Delhi cuts imports under a sanctions waiver deal with Washington, data compiled by Reuters showed.
The United States introduced sanctions aimed at crippling Iran’s oil revenue-dependent economy in November but gave a six-month waiver to eight nations, including India, which allowed them to import some Iranian oil.
India has been allowed by Washington to continue to buy about 300,000 bpd oil till early May.
India’s February imports from Iran were about 4 percent lower than January’s purchases, the data showed.
Iran was the eighth biggest oil supplier to India in February compared with seventh in January, and slipped from third position it held a year ago, the data showed.
Last month Tehran’s share in India’s overall oil imports declined to about 5 percent from about 14 percent a year earlier, the data showed.
In the first 11 months of this fiscal year that began in April, India’s oil imports from Iran rose by 5.6 percent to 486,400 bpd as refiners boosted purchases ahead of the U.S. sanctions drawn by discounts offered by Tehran, the data showed.
Iran was hoping to sell more than 500,000 bpd of oil to India in 2018/19, its oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said last year, and had offered almost free shipping and an extended credit period to boost sales to the country.
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.
Delivery of some cargoes is delayed to March as Tehran has a limited number of ships.
In the previous fiscal year that ended on March 31, 2018 Indian refiners cut purchases from Iran due to a dispute over the award of development rights of a giant gas field.
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 tonnes, it imported in the previous year, were correct.
India’s total oil imports in February were about 5 million barrels, a growth of about 4.6 percent from a year earlier, the data showed.
Reporting by Nidhi Verma; editing by David Evans