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* Oil imports from Iran could ease in 2017/18
* Iran threatens to cut freight discount, credit period on
By Nidhi Verma
NEW DELHI, April 7 India's Iran oil imports
jumped to a record high in 2016/17 topping half-a-million
barrels per day (bpd) as refiners boosted purchases after
lifting of some Western sanctions against Tehran last year.
India, Iran's biggest oil buyer after China, was among a
handful of countries that continued to deal with Tehran despite
Western sanctions over its nuclear programme.
Refiners shipped in about 541,000 bpd of Iranian oil in the
fiscal year to March, a growth of about 115 percent over the
previous year, ship tracking data obtained from sources and data
compiled by Thomson Reuters Oil Research & Forecasts showed.
Iran was India's second biggest oil supplier - a position
now belonging to Iraq - before economic sanctions aimed at
Iran's nuclear programme hampered its trade relations, forcing
the South Asian nation to tap alternative suppliers.
Purchases by Indian refiners, including Reliance Industries
that resumed imports last year after a multi-year
lay-off, helped Iran regain some of the lost market share.
Imports from Iran could ease in this fiscal year as
state-refiners have agreed to cut their annual imports deal with
Iran by a fifth to put pressure on Tehran to award the Farzad B
gas field to an Indian consortium.
Iran, in turn has decided to cut the credit period on oil
sales to 60 days from 90 days and cut freight discounts from 80
percent to 60 percent.
India imported 18.7 percent less oil from Iran in March at
about 526,000 bpd oil compared to the previous month, data
showed. Volumes were however 4 percent higher than a year ago.
Overall, India's oil imports rose 4.7 percent in March from
the previous month, and by about 4.9 percent from a year ago.
In March Iraq emerged as the second biggest oil supplier to
India, a position it ceded to Iran the previous month. Saudi
Arabia continued to be the top oil supplier to India in March.
In the first quarter of this year India's oil imports from
Iran surged by about 92 percent to 573,400 bpd as some OPEC
producers had cut supplies, the data showed.
Iran was exempted from an OPEC deal to reduce output by 1.2
million bpd starting Jan. 1, a victory for Tehran which argued
it needs to regain the market share it lost during sanctions.
(Reporting by Nidhi Verma, editing by David Evans)