India’s oil imports from Iran rose 48.8 percent in April from a year ago as refiners bought more crude after the lifting of sanctions against the OPEC producer, although the purchases were down from a multi-year high hit the previous month. Refiners in the world’s third-largest crude importer took in 393,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian oil in April, the first month of the new contract year, according to preliminary tanker arrival data from trade sources and ship-tracking services on the Thomson Reuters terminal.
The April shipments were down 22.4 percent from Iranian volumes in March, when imports from Tehran topped 500,000 bpd to reach the highest level in at least five years. India’s oil imports from Iran are set to surge to a seven-year high in the year that began April 1, industry sources said early last month, with the nation’s state-owned and private refiners together buying at least 400,000 bpd.
Part of India’s recent resurgence in Iranian purchases comes from Reliance Industries, operator of the world’s biggest refining complex, which in March took oil from Iran for the first time in six years for its plant in western India. The private refiner, however, did not take any parcel from Tehran in April, accounting for most of the drop from the previous month. Its purchases in March were done under spot deals, although it is looking to sign up for long-term supplies from Iran.
Another private refiner, Essar Oil, was the biggest buyer of Iranian oil in April, shipping in about 181,300 bpd, followed by Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd with about 110,200 bpd, and Indian Oil Corp with 101,400 bpd, the shipping and terminal data showed. In the first four month of 2016 India’s Iran oil imports more than doubled to 322,500 bpd, the data showed, in comparison with 160,500 bpd in the same period last year.
India’s oil imports from Iran are expected to surge in coming months, when refiners Hindustan Petroleum Corp and Bharat Petroleum Corp begin lifting Iranian oil. State-run HPCL and BPCL have agreed a 20,000 bpd contract each with National Iranian Oil Co, but the two are waiting for further clarity on insurance for plants processing Iranian oil.
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