India to buy Iranian oil in Nov despite US sanctions: Pradhan
New Delhi: Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan Monday said two state refiners have placed orders for importing crude oil from Iran in November, the month when US sanctions on Iranian oil purchases take effect.
"Two of our oil companies have made nominations to purchase Iranian oil in November," he said speaking at The Energy Forum here. "We do not know if we will get waiver (from US sanctions) or not."
This is the first time Pradhan has spoken about India's stand on buying Iranian oil once the US sanctions on Iran come into force from November 4.
Later, talking to reporters, he said India has its own energy requirements which it has to fulfill. "We will be guided by our national interest," he said.
Indian Oil Corp (IOC) Chairman Sanjiv Singh said his company is among the two which have placed order for November.
"We have ordered for our usual quantity of oil," he said.
IOC and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL) together have placed order for 1.25 million tonne (MT) of crude oil from Iran.
Singh said options for paying for Iranian oil are under discussions.
US sanctions against Iran will kick in from November 4, which will block payment routes. Paying in rupee is an option. Iran can use the rupee to settle its imports of pharmaceuticals and other goods from India.
"Even without sanctions also, Iran had been accepting payments in rupee. So let us see how it evolves," he said.
While India wants to continue importing Iranian oil, albeit a reduced volume, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month stated that Washington would consider waivers on the embargo but made it clear that these would be time-limited, if granted.
Singh said IOC is importing the "usual" monthly volumes of oil from Iran. It had planned to import 9 MT of Iranian oil in 2018-19 financial year or 0.75 MT a month.
For rupee payments, oil companies could use UCO Bank or IDBI Bank to route oil payments to Iran, sources said.
India had planned to import about 25 MT of crude oil from Iran in 2018-19, up from 22.6 MT imported in 2017-18. But the actual volumes imported may be far less as companies like Reliance Industries have totally stopped buying oil from Iran and others too are scaling it down in hope of winning a sanction waiver from the US.
Nayara Energy, formerly Essar Oil, too is stopping import from the Persian Gulf nation.
US President Donald Trump in May withdrew from the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, re-imposing economic sanctions against the Persian Gulf nation. Some sanctions took effect from August 6 while those affecting the oil and banking sectors will start from November 4.
Sources said Iran is open to accepting rupee payment for oil and may use the money to pay for equipment and food items it buys from India.