NEW DELHI: India‘s from Iran fell by 45 per cent in January to 270,500 barrels per day oil (bpd), ship tracking data reviewed by Reuters showed, below the estimated 300,000 bpd for the month as some cargoes were delayed.

The United States introduced sanctions aimed at crippling Iran‘s oil revenue-dependent economy in November but gave a six-month waiver to eight nations, including India, which allowed them to import some Iranian oil.

India is restricted to buying 1.25 million tonnes per month, some 300,000 bpd. January imports from Iran were 10.4 per cent lower than December, the tanker arrival data showed.

Iran was the seventh biggest oil supplier to India in January compared with sixth in December, and slipped from third position it held a year ago. Last month Tehran‘s share in India‘s overall oil imports declined to about 6 per cent from about 10 per cent a year earlier, the data showed.

After abandoning the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, US President Donald Trump is trying to end Tehran‘s nuclear ambitions and ballistic missile programme and curb its support for militants in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East.

In the first 10 months of this fisal year that began in April, India‘s oil imports from Iran rose by 14.5 per cent to 507,000 bpd as refiners boosted purchases ahead of the US sanctions drawn by discounts offered by Tehran, the data showed.

Iran was hoping to sell more than 500,000 bpd of oil to India in 2018/19, its oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said last year, and had offered almost free shipping and an extended credit period to boost sales to the country.

Indian refiners Hindustan Petroleum Corp and Bharat Petrolum Corp, Mangalore Refinery and Petroleum Corp and Indian Oil Corp would lift same volume in March as they took in February, a governemnt official said.

In February, IOC placed an order for 5 million barrels, MRPL for 2 million barrels and HPCL and BPCL for 1 million barrels each. None of the companies responded to a Reuters email seeking comments.

In the previous fiscal year that ended on March 31, 2018 Indian refiners cut purchases from Iran due to a dispute on the award of development rights of a giant gas field.

Government sources say Reuters‘ calculations showing India‘s oil imports from Iran in this fiscal year would be higher than the 452,000 bpd, or 22.6 million tonnes, it imported in the previous year, were correct.

India‘s total oil imports in January were about 4.6 million bpd, a decline of about 10.4 per cent from a year earlier, the data showed.

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