New Delhi: Indian Oil Corp, the nation's biggest oil firm, has raised crude oil import from Iran to four fold and has cleared most of the past payments as sanctions against the Persian Gulf nation were eased.
"We have contracted to import 5 million tonnes (MT)of crude oil from Iran in 2016-17, up from 1.2 MT," IOC Director (Finance) A K Sharma said here.
India has steadily raised crude oil imports from Iran after US sanctions were lifted in January this year. Iran today is India's fourth biggest crude oil supplier.
Iran, which was India's second biggest supplier of crude oil after Saudi Arabia till 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. 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. Sharma said imports from Iran were going exactly in line with the plans. "Month-wise lifting is in line with the 5 MT contracted volume," he said.
IOC Director (Refineries) Sanjiv Singh said the company had paid $510 million out of the total outstanding of $621 million due to Iran in past oil dues.
Sanctions had blocked payment routes and dues had accumulated over the past couple of years. After accounting for the exchange variations, the total outstanding due is only $55 million now, he said.
Iraq this year has overtaken Saudi Arabia as India's top oil exporter. It sold 11 MT of crude oil to India during April-June, higher than 10 MT sourced from Saudi Arabia. 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.
During the first three months of current fiscal, India imported 53.2 MT of crude oil, 65 percent of which came from the volatile Middle East region. India imports about 80 percent of its oil needs.