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India Awaits U.S. Waiver Decision Before Booking Iranian Oil For May

India oil

India is not booking Iranian crude oil due to load in May, as refiners in one of Iran’s key oil customers are waiting for more clarity from the U.S. on whether India will get its sanctions waiver extended, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing four sources.  

The U.S. waivers for eight key Iranian oil customers, including the biggest buyers China, India, Japan, and South Korea, expire in early May.

While the U.S. Administration says that it continues to pursue zero Iranian oil exports, analysts expect Washington to extend waivers to at least a few of the currently exempted buyers, with reduced volumes allowed under the new waivers, as the Administration wouldn’t want to push oil prices too high.

According to Reuters’ sources today, India hopes to have more clarity within ten days on whether the U.S. will extend the sanctions waiver and on the volumes of oil that India would be allowed to purchase in case its waiver is extended. 

Under its current exemption from the U.S. sanctions on Iran, India is allowed to buy some 300,000 bpd of Iranian oil.

As the ‘waivers window’ is shrinking as we approach early May, buyers may be rushing to buy what they can before April to squeeze in under the current waiver in case waivers are not extended, according to analysts.

Japanese refiners, for example, are unlikely to continue buying Iranian crude from April onwards, the president of the Petroleum Association of Japan, Takashi Tsukuoka, said last month, as quoted by Reuters.

Two South Korean refiners have bought an unspecified amount of U.S. superlight oil to test it as a potential replacement for Iranian condensate, Reuters reported last week, citing sources.  

South Korea, meanwhile, is discussing a waivers extension with U.S. officials and is calling on the Trump Administration to show “utmost flexibility” in allowing Seoul to continue importing Iranian oil, Korean outlet KBS WORLD reported on Tuesday, quoting a South Korean official.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on April 09 2019 said:
    India will continue to buy Iranian crude oil whether it gets a new waiver or not. India has been buying Iranian crude in big volumes because it doesn’t recognize US sanctions against Iran and also because of the discounted prices, easy payment terms and flexibility of payment it is receiving from Iran.

    It will not break India’s heart if the United States doesn’t renew India’s sanction waiver.

    Moreover, India has been buying more than 400,000 barrels a day (b/d) of Venezuelan crude oil despite threats by the Trump administration that it will take action against countries continuing to buy Venezuelan crude.

    Still, the United States has no alternative but to renew the sanction waivers it issued last year to the eight biggest buyers of Iranian crude when they expire in May or issue new ones for no other reason than to use them as a fig leaf to mask the fiasco that US sanctions have failed and also the fact that the zero exports option is a bridge too far.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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