New Delhi warns refiners to prepare for ‘drastic cut’ in oil imports from Iran

Saudi Arabia has pledged a “supply boost” as countries work to find a replacement for Iranian oil. (Shutterstock)
Updated 05 August 2018
0

New Delhi warns refiners to prepare for ‘drastic cut’ in oil imports from Iran

  • India is the second biggest buyer of Iranian oil, after China
  • The US has said it wants Iranian oil buyers to halt imports from November

NEW DELHI: India’s oil ministry has asked refiners to prepare for a “drastic reduction or zero” imports of Iranian oil from November, two industry sources said, the first sign that New Delhi is responding to a push by the US to cut trade ties with Iran. India has said it does not recognize unilateral restrictions imposed by the US, and instead follows UN sanctions. But the industry sources said India, the biggest buyer of Iranian oil after China, will be forced to take action to protect its exposure to the US financial system.

India’s oil ministry held a meeting with refiners on Thursday, urging them to scout for alternatives to Iranian oil, the sources said.

“(India) has asked refiners to be prepared for any eventuality, since the situation is still evolving. There could be drastic reduction or there could be no import at all,” said one of the sources.

During the previous round of sanctions, India was one of the few countries that continued to buy Iranian oil, although it had to reduce imports as shipping, insurance and banking channels were choked due to the European and US sanctions.

The source said this time the situation is different. “You have India, China and Europe on one side, and US on the other... At this moment we really don’t know what to do, but at the same time we have to prepare ourselves to face any eventuality.”

While a State Department official has said that Washington wants Iranian oil buyers to halt imports from November, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lessen dependence on Iranian oil.

Haley, currently in New Delhi, spoke with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo early on Wednesday, before meeting Modi. The US push to curb countries’ imports of Iranian oil comes after President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 deal between Iran and six world powers, and ordered a reimposition of sanctions on Tehran.

Under pressure from the US sanctions, Reliance Industries Ltd, the operator of the world’s biggest refining complex, has decided to halt imports.

Nayara Energy, an Indian company promoted by Russian oil major Rosneft, is also preparing to halt Iranian oil imports from November after a communication from the government, a second source said. The company has already started cutting its oil imports from this month.

Indian Oil Corp, Mangalore Refineries and Petrochemicals Ltd. and Nayara Energy, the top three Indian buyers of Iranian oil, and the oil ministry did not respond to Reuters’s request for comments.

Removing Iranian oil from the global market by November as called for by the US, is impossible, an Iranian oil official told the semi-official Tasnim news agency on Wednesday.

The options to find replacements to Iranian oil have widened after OPEC agreed with Russia and other oil-producing allies last week to raise output from July by about 1 million barrels per day (bpd), with Saudi Arabia pledging a “measurable” supply boost but giving no specific numbers.

Saudi Arabia’s plans to pump up to 11 million (bpd) in July would mark a new record, an industry source familiar with Saudi oil production plans told Reuters on Tuesday.


Urgency needed to boost Palestinian economy: IMF chief

Updated 26 June 2019
0

Urgency needed to boost Palestinian economy: IMF chief

  • The MF has been warning of severe deterioration in the Palestinian economy
  • ‘If there is an economic plan, if there is urgency, it’s a question of making sure that the momentum is sustained’

MANAMA: IMF chief Christine Lagarde said Wednesday that major economic growth was possible in the Palestinian territories if all sides showed urgency, as she took part in a US-led conference boycotted by the Palestinian leadership.
The International Monetary Fund has been warning of severe deterioration in the Palestinian economy, with tax revenue blocked in a dispute with Israel which has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip for more than a decade.
“If there is an economic plan, if there is urgency, it’s a question of making sure that the momentum is sustained,” said Lagarde.
The IMF chief is attending a conference in Bahrain to discuss the economic aspects of a United States plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, which has already been rejected by the Palestinians as it fails to address key political issues.
Lagarde said for the US plan to work “it will require all the goodwill in the world on the part of all parties — private sector, public sector, international organizations and the parties on the ground and their neighbors.”
Citing examples of post-conflict countries, Lagarde said that private investors needed progress in several sectors including strengthening the central bank, better managing public finance and mobilizing domestic revenue.
“If anti-corruption is really one of the imperatives of the authorities — as it was in Rwanda, for instance — then things can really take off,” she said.
The plan presented by White House adviser Jared Kushner calls for $50 billion of investment in the Palestinian territories and its neighbors within a decade.
The proposals for infrastructure, tourism, education and more aim to create one million Palestinian jobs.
Gross domestic product in the Gaza Strip declined by eight percent last year, while there was only minor growth in the West Bank.
Kushner, opening the conference on Tuesday, called the plan the “Opportunity of the Century” — and said the Palestinians needed to accept it before a deal can be reached on political solutions.
The Palestinian Authority has rejected the conference, saying that the US and Israel are trying to dangle money to impose their ideas on a political settlement.
Washington says it will unveil the political aspects of its peace deal at a later date, most likely after Israel’s September election.