NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India imported about 5 percent more oil from Iran in the last fiscal year through March as companies raised purchases ahead of U.S. sanctions against Tehran from November, preliminary tanker arrival data obtained from shipping and industry sources showed.
Despite Washington restricting India’s purchases from Tehran, refiners shipped in about 479,500 barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian oil in 2018/19 compared with about 458,000 bpd a year before, according to the data.
The United States introduced sanctions in November but gave a six-month waiver to eight nations, including India, which allowed them to import some Iranian oil.
India was allowed by Washington to continue to buy about 300,000 bpd oil until early May.
In March India’s oil imports from Iran rose to about 405,000 bpd, about 56 percent higher than February, the data showed. March volumes were however about 6 percent lower than the purchase in the same month a year earlier.
A lack of ships delayed lifting of some cargoes to end-February, leading to higher arrivals in March, sources said. BPCL could not lift a cargo from Iran as tanker was not available, a company source said.
Since November, when India received the sanctions waiver, only state-run Indian Oil Corp, Bharat Petroleum Corp, Hindustan Petroleum and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals have been buying Iranian oil.
India’s overall imports from Iran in 2018/19 were lower than the 500,000 bpd that Iran was hoping to sell to its second-biggest oil client after China. Indian refiners raised purchases from Iran in April-October 2018, drawn to almost free shipping and extended credit offered by Tehran to boost sales.
In the first quarter of 2019, India shipped in about 40 percent less oil from Iran at about 313,400 bpd, the data showed.
The sources declined to be identified as they were not authorized to speak with media.
Indian refiners have not yet placed orders to lift Iranian oil in May pending clarity on whether Washington will extend a the sanctions waiver.
India wants to keep buying Iranian oil at a level of 300,000 bpd, Indian sources said last month.
Refiners placed orders to buy 8 million barrels in April but India would receive higher volumes as some delayed cargoes of March arrive at Indian ports this month.
Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Editing by David Holmes