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Iraq pips Saudi Arabia as top crude oil seller to India

 PTI |  2016-07-26 23:31:45.0  |  New Delhi

Iraq pips Saudi Arabia as top crude oil seller to India

Iraq has overtaken Saudi Arabia to become India's top crude oil supplier while Iran has grabbed the fourth biggest exporter slot post lifting of sanctions. Iraq sold 11 million tonnes (mt) of crude oil to India during April-June, higher than 10 mt sourced from Saudi Arabia, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Monday.

Saudi Arabia has been India's top supplier of crude oil — selling 35 mt of oil in 2014-15 and 40.04 mt in 2015-16. Iran, which was India's second biggest supplier of crude oil after Saudi Arabia in 2010-11, had been relegated to 7th place in 2013-14 and 2014-15 out of the 50-odd nations India sources its crude oil from.

But with the lifting of sanctions in January this year, crude oil imports have steadily climbed. India imported 12.7 mt of crude oil in 2015-16, up from 11 mt in the previous two fiscals, he said in a written reply in Lok Sabha. That made it 6th largest supplier of oil to India. In April-June this year, India bought 5 mt of crude oil from Iran, making it the fourth largest supplier just a shade behind Venezuela which exported 5.2 mt.

Iran had in 2009-10 supplied 21.2 mt which came down to 18.5 mt in 2010-11 and to 18.1 mt in 
the year after.

Pradhan said during the first three months of current fiscal, India imported 53.2 mt of crude oil, 65 per cent of which came from the volatile Middle East region.

India imports about 80 per cent of its oil needs. Iraq was the second biggest supplier in 2015-16, selling 36.8 mt , followed by Nigeria (23.7 mt) and Venezuela (23.6 mt). Pradhan said India spent $64 billion (Rs 416,361 crore) on import of 202.9 mt of crude oil in 2015-16, down from $112.7 billion (Rs 687,416 crore) spent on import of 189.4 mt in the previous year. A sharp drop in international oil prices has helped trim India's oil import bill.

In April-June of current fiscal, the country spent $15.8 billion (Rs 105,624 crore) on import of 53.2 mt of crude oil, he said. The Middle East region supplied 59.73 per cent of the total 202.9 mt of crude oil imported by India during 2015-16 fiscal. In the entire 2014-15 fiscal, India had imported 109.88 mt or 58 per cent of its entire oil need of 189.44 mt, from the Middle East. 

The reliance on the Middle East in that year had declined from 61 per cent in the previous 2013-14 fiscal when the region supplied a total of 115.86 mt of oil. In 2012-13, the Middle East accounted for 62.44 per cent of oil supplies. 

Iran's Chabahar port may become operational within two years
Commercial operations at the Chabahar port are expected to start in the 18-24 months, which will provide India increased connectivity to Russia and North Baltic countries, among others, Parliament was informed on Monday. "Overall, it is expected that it will take 18-24 months for commercial operations to commence at Chabahar Port," Minister of State for Shipping P Radhakrishnan said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha. In May, India signed a milestone agreement with Iran to invest $500 million to develop the strategic Chabahar Port in Southern Iran, which will give India access to Afghanistan and Europe bypassing Pakistan. On access through Chabahar port, the minister said: "India will get access to Eastern Transit Corridor to eastern part of Iran, Afghanistan (landlocked), CIS countries like Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, etc and alternative to North South Corridor (access to Russia and North Baltic countries)." The West Coast of India with ports like Kandla (550 Nautical Miles) and Mumbai/JNPT (786 Nautical Miles) will get the maximum benefit, he added. 

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