October 16, 2018 / 6:16 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-MRPL expects India to get waiver from U.S. sanctions on Iran this month - official

(Adds quotes from official, details)

By Nidhi Verma and Promit Mukherjee

NEW DELHI, Oct 16 (Reuters) - India’s Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL) expects India to get a waiver from U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil exports this month, a company official said on Tuesday.

The United States plans to impose new sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector on Nov. 4 to try to stop the country’s involvement in conflicts in Syria and Iraq and bring Tehran to the negotiating table over its ballistic missile programme.

The Trump administration is actively considering waivers on sanctions for countries that are reducing their imports of Iranian oil, a U.S. government official said earlier this month.

“The waiver should happen pretty fast, hopefully this month,” M. Venkatesh, managing director at MRPL told reporters on the sidelines of the IHS CERA conference.

India is hopeful of waivers as it has made progress on qualifying for exceptions called SRE waivers, or significant reduction exemptions, he said.

“It is not easy to replace Iranian barrels,” Venkatesh added.

MRPL would look at buying Iraqi oil to replace Iranian oil, he said, adding that the company has already made some payments in rupees to Iran for oil.

MRPL, which has an annual deal to buy 4.5 million tonnes of Iranian oil, has so far taken about 60-70 percent of its contracted volumes, Venkatesh said. It also has an option to buy an additional 1 million tonnes.

“It is important for India to get some barrels of crude from Iran otherwise if Saudi and major producers are not able to jack up their production, it will impact prices,” he said.

Indian refiners imported around 10 million barrels of Iranian oil in October, and its November shipments are expected to be lower.

India, Iran’s top client after China, has close diplomatic ties with Iran, where it is building a strategic port called Chabahar that is expected to be operational by 2019.

At the same time, India is closely working with the United States to further its strategic interests. (Reporting by Nidhi Verma and Promit Mukherjee; Writing by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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