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India has asked the United States if it would be flexible in allowing India to continue importing Iranian crude oil despite the end of the sanction waivers on May 1, according to an Indian newspaper on Tuesday.
The request, according to reports, came from Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in a discussion with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to anonymous sources quoted by the Hindustan Times.
Swaraj explained to the Secretary of State that India was not in a position to immediately source enough crude oil from suppliers other than Iran—an issue that is particularly sensitive because India is in the middle of an election, and the new administration would be rendering a decision on how to handle this issue.
Pompeo was noncommittal, according to sources, telling Swaraj that that decision was no longer being handled at that level.
The United States announced last week that it would not be extending any of the eight waivers that it had issued to buyers of Iranian oil in an effort to drive Iranian oil exports to zero.
That figure is in doubt, however, with China and perhaps Turkey largely expected to keep purchasing Iranian crude oil despite the US sanctions that will be in full force without exception as of May 2. But this theory, too, is now in doubt as a Reuters’ report today suggested that China is currently sitting on 20 million barrels of Iranian oil that has been stuck in port for the past six months, arriving there prior to the sanctions that were levied in November last year. The oil is now stuck in customs, even though China has had a waiver to import Iranian oil. Now that the sanction waivers are set to expire, the fact of the oil stuck in port is even more murky.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.