March 14, 2019 / 5:42 PM / a month ago

India to buy 12 percent less Iran oil in April versus March: sources

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian state refiners will lift 8 million barrels of Iranian oil in April, a decline of about 12 percent from the previous month, industry sources said, as the nation is in talks with the United States to renew the waiver from U.S. sanctions against Tehran.

FILE PHOTO: A gas flare on an oil production platform in the Soroush oil fields is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Persian Gulf, Iran, July 25, 2005. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

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 or 9 million barrels in a month till early May.

New Delhi, Tehran’s biggest oil client after China, has decided to lift lower volumes in April as a ‘precautionary measure ahead of renewal of waiver,’ said one of the sources familiar with the matter, without elaborating further.

The United States aims to cut Iran’s crude exports by about 20 percent to below 1 million bpd from May by requiring importing countries to reduce purchases to avoid U.S. sanctions, two sources familiar with the matter said.

The United States will likely renew waivers to sanctions for most countries buying Iranian crude, including the biggest buyers China and India, in exchange for pledges to cut combined imports to below 1 million bpd. That would be around 250,000 bpd below Iran’s current exports of 1.25 million bpd.

It is not yet clear if reduced volumes of 8 million barrels a month is the new condition imposed by Washington for granting a second waiver to New Delhi from sanctions against Tehran.

For March, Indian Oil Corp had placed an order for 5 million barrels, Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd for 2 million, and Hindustan Petroleum Corp and Bharat Petroleum Corp for 1 million each.

In April, IOC would lift 4 million barrels, while there is no change in volumes to be loaded by other companies, the sources said.

India’s oil ministry and IOC, BPCL, and HPCL did not respond to Reuters email seeking comment, while MRPL declined comment.

Reporting by Nidhi Verma; editing by David Evans

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