NEW DELHI India's July oil imports from Iran rose by over a fifth from June, surging to its highest level in five months as two state- run refiners resumed shipments from Tehran after a gap of years, preliminary tanker arrival data obtained by Reuters show.
Hindustan Petroleum Corp (HPCL.NS) and Bharat Petroleum (BPCL.NS), India's second- and third-biggest state-owned refiners respectively, halted Iranian oil imports after western sanctions against Tehran's nuclear programme barred insurance cover for plants processing Iranian oil.
India shipped in 461,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian oil in July, a nearly 21 percent increase from June and more than double than the about 215,000 bpd imported a year ago, tanker arrival data and ship-tracking services on the Thomson Reuters terminal show.
India's oil imports from Iran for the fiscal year that began in April are set to surge to a seven-year high, with the nation's state-owned and private refiners together buying at least 400,000 bpd.
While BPCL previously took an oil cargo from Iran in November 2011, HPCL last imported oil from the country in May 2013, according to data available to Reuters.
For the first seven months of 2016, India imported about 359,000 bpd of Iranian oil, up 67 percent from the same period a year ago, the data showed.
In April to July, the first four months of the current fiscal year, India's Iran oil purchases rose about 43 percent to 404,000 bpd from about 283,000 bpd in the same period a year ago, the data showed.
Indian Oil Corp (IOC.NS), the country's biggest refiner, was the top buyer of Iranian oil in July, shipping in about 158,000 bpd oil, while Essar Oil slipped to the No. 2 position with 126,300 bpd, the data showed.
Since a landmark nuclear deal was reached with major powers in 2015 leading to the lifting of sanctions, Iran has been planning to boost crude production and exports to the pre-sanction levels.
Imports of Iranian oil by four major buyers in Asia in June jumped 47.1 percent from a year ago to the highest level in more than four years.
(Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)
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