India ends Iranian oil imports

The Trump administration has ramped up economic pressure on Iran. (Reuters)
Updated 23 May 2019
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India ends Iranian oil imports

  • India's ambassador to the US says India had already sharply decreased its imports from Iran

WASHINGTON: India has ended all imports of oil from Iran, its ambassador in Washington said Wednesday, becoming the latest country to comply with threatened US sanctions.
India had already sharply decreased its imports from Iran and bought one million tons of crude in April, the last month before Washington stepped up its pressure campaign against Tehran and ended all exemptions to sanctions, Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla said.
“That’s it. After that we haven’t imported any,” Shringla told reporters during a briefing on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election victory.
Shringla said that energy-hungry India has also ended all imports from Venezuela because it considered itself a partner of the United States — but said the shift had caused pain at home, with Iran formerly supplying 10 percent of India’s oil needs.
Calling Iran “an extended neighbor” of India with longstanding cultural links, Shringla declined to say if New Delhi shared President Donald Trump’s concerns about Tehran.
“This is an issue that has to be dealt with, really, between the United States and Iran. We are only, in many senses, looking at it as a third party,” Shringla said.
But he added: “We would not like to see a move toward any escalation in any way in that area, for the simple reason that we depend very heavily on stability in that part of the world.”
Trump last year pulled out of a multinational pact under which Iran drastically scaled back its nuclear work in return for promises of sanctions relief.
The Trump administration has instead ramped up economic pressure on Iran and recently deployed military assets including an aircraft carrier strike group to the area.
The United States as of May 2 has ended exemptions it had given to eight governments from its unilateral order to stop buying Iranian oil.
Turkey, which enjoyed a waiver and vocally disagreed with the US policy, has also stopped importing oil from Iran, a Turkish official said Tuesday.
State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus welcomed the news from Turkey.
“We want the whole world to comply with these sanctions, and we’re grateful for our partners and allies that are respecting them,” she told reporters.


Oil prices rise after tanker attacks stoke Middle East tensions

Updated 6 min 10 sec ago
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Oil prices rise after tanker attacks stoke Middle East tensions

  • Second time in a month tankers have been attacked in the world’s most important zone for oil supplies
  • Washington blames Iran for Thursday’s attacks

TOKYO: Oil prices rose on Monday after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington will take all actions necessary to guarantee safe navigation in the Middle East, as tensions mounted following attacks on tankers last week.
Brent futures had climbed 26 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $62.27 a barrel by 0314 GMT. They gained 1.1 percent on Friday.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 17 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $52.68 a barrel. They rose 0.4 percent in the previous session.
Prices had jumped as much as 4.5 percent on Thursday after the attacks on two oil tankers near Iran and the Strait of Hormuz.
It was the second time in a month tankers have been attacked in the world’s most important zone for oil supplies as tensions increase between the United States and Iran. Washington blamed Iran for Thursday’s attacks, prompting a denial and criticism from Tehran.
“We don’t want war. We’ve done what we can to deter this,” Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News Sunday, adding: “The Iranians should understand very clearly that we will continue to take actions that deter Iran from engaging in this kind of behavior.”
Tensions between Iran and the United States have risen since US President Donald Trump pulled out of a deal last year between Iran and global powers that aimed to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief.
Iran has repeatedly warned it would block the Strait of Hormuz if it cannot sell its oil because of US sanctions.
“Growing tensions in the Middle East remain a cause for concern as traders fear supply disruptions over an escalation toward militaristic conflicts,” said Benjamin Lu, an analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore.
Also supporting prices were comments over the weekend by the Saudi energy minister, Khalid Al-Falih, that OPEC would probably meet in the first week of July and he hoped it would reach an agreement on extending oil output curbs.
“We are hoping that we will reach consensus to extend our agreement when we meet in two weeks time in Vienna,” Falih told reporters while attending a G20 energy and environment ministerial meeting in Karuizawa, northwest of Tokyo.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries plus Russia and other producers, an alliance known as OPEC+, have a deal to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) from Jan. 1. The pact ends this month and the group meets in coming weeks to decide the next move.
US energy companies also cut the number of oil rigs operating for a second week in a row, with production growth expected to slow as crude prices fell to near their lowest levels of the year.