India sees no issues with Iran oil imports despite sanctions

Reuters, Monday 5 Dec 2011

India's oil minister says that as long as oil imports escape restrictions, all other problems can be managed

Iran is India's second-biggest oil supplier meeting about 12 per cent of its import needs. (Photo: Reuters)

India sees no impediments to importing Iranian oil despite a new wave of sanctions imposed by the West, Oil Minister S Jaipal Reddy said on Monday.

"As long as there are no sanctions on oil as such, other problems can be managed," he told reporters on the sidelines of the World Petroleum Congress.

"There are some practical problems in making payments but we have managed to surmount those problems."

Iran is India's second-biggest oil supplier after Saudi Arabia and exports total about US$12 billion a year, meeting about 12 per cent of India's import needs.

India and Iran have been struggling to find a permanent mechanism to settle their bilateral trade, especially since December when India's central bank scrapped a clearing house mechanism -- a move welcomed by the United States which is trying to isolate the Islamic Republic over its nuclear programme.

The US, Britain and Canada announced new measures against Iran's energy and financial sectors last month and France proposed "unprecedented" new sanctions, including freezing the assets of its central bank and suspending purchases of its oil.

Meanwhile, the European Union last week added 180 people and entities to its Iran sanctions list and laid out plans for a possible embargo of Iranian oil.

Reddy declined to comment on whether India would buy more Iranian oil if the European Union bans imports, or whether India was in talks with Saudi Arabia about fall back supplies if Iran crude stops coming, saying both were "hypothetical" situations.

"There is no embargo on oil as such," Reddy said. "Given otherwise, we will ensure other supply lines. But in respect of oil supply from Iran I see no problem."

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