LONDON, April 5 Iran's oil minister dismissed
India's decision to cut oil imports from Tehran in 2017/18 by a
fifth as a threat on Wednesday, in an escalation of a dispute
over a giant gas field contract.
Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters last week that
Indian state refiners were going to cut oil imports from
Iran, as New Delhi seeks to put pressure on Tehran to award the
Farzad B gas field to an Indian consortium.
"India is one of our good costumers, but we cannot sign (a)
contract under threat," Bijan Zanganeh was quoted as saying by
Iran's ISNA news agency.
"India's cut of oil imports from Iran will not cause any
trouble to us as we have other buyers," he added.
Zanganeh said despite an extension of deadlines, India has
not offered an acceptable proposal for the development of the
"Their proposal was not profitable to Iran ... We sent (the)
Indians a letter and told them we are keen to continue
negotiations, but under sensible conditions, not under threats."
India, Iran's biggest oil buyer after China, was among a
handful of countries that continued to deal with the Tehran
despite Western sanctions over its nuclear programme.
A consortium headed by ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), the overseas
investment arm of Indian explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp,
discovered Farzad B in the Farsi offshore block in 2008.
The consortium, which also includes Oil India and Indian Oil
Corp, could not obtain permission to develop the field due to
Western sanctions, but those sanctions were removed last year.
India and Iran had both been hopeful of wrapping up the
Farzad B deal by March, although Zanganeh said Iran has asked
other countries to submit their proposals for its development.
(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; editing by Alexander