Sushma Swaraj asks US for Iran oil import waiver, says vast amount of Iranian energy cannot be replaced overnight

Swaraj spoke to Pompeo during the weekend over the phone and urged the US Secretary of State to consider India’s current situation

FP Staff May 01, 2019 12:03:42 IST
Sushma Swaraj asks US for Iran oil import waiver, says vast amount of Iranian energy cannot be replaced overnight
  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj highlighted the fact that a vast amount of Iranian energy cannot be replaced overnight

  • Swaraj told Mike Pompeo that India should be allowed to import Iranian crude as the general election is underway in the country

  • Trump had said Saudi Arabia and others in OPEC had agreed to his request to boost oil production in order to tamp down prices

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has reportedly asked US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for a waiver for continued import of Iranian crude after the 2 May deadline imposed by the Donald Trump administration, a media report said.

According to The HinduSwaraj spoke to Pompeo during the weekend over the phone and urged the US Secretary of State to consider India’s current situation. Swaraj highlighted the fact that a vast amount of Iranian energy cannot be replaced overnight, the report added.

Swaraj, according to Hindustan Times, told Pompeo that India should be allowed to import Iranian crude for some more time as the general election is underway in the country. Pompeo, however, did not make any commitment and told Swaraj the matter was no longer handled at his level, the report added.

The government believes that US sanctions on Iran could boost oil prices and inflation to a point that hurts the common person in India. Trump’s efforts to sink Iran’s oil exports to zero will have a direct impact on India, the largest buyer of the oil after China, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, the ambassador, said at a Carnegie Endowment event.

“We are apprehensive that that impact can translate into inflation, (and) higher oil prices,” that could affect the common person in India, Shringla said.

Sushma Swaraj asks US for Iran oil import waiver says vast amount of Iranian energy cannot be replaced overnight

File image of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AP

Trump’s sanctions on Iran are intended to curb its nuclear and ballistic missile programme and reduce its influence in Syria, Yemen and other countries in the Middle East.

Many of India’s oil refineries are calibrated to process crude oil from Iran and “it is not possible to suddenly convert those refineries (to run )some other form of crude,” Shringla said. Cutting off sales of oil from Iran, with which India has long had business and cultural relations, raises questions about long-term agreements on pricing and quality in the oil business, he said.

Last week, Trump said Saudi Arabia and others in OPEC had agreed to his request to boost oil production in order to tamp down prices. "Spoke to Saudi Arabia and others about increasing oil flow. All are in agreement," Trump had said. He had said his efforts to persuade OPEC oil producers to increase output were working and gasoline prices were coming down.

Russia had said that it would not immediately raise oil output after the United States ends sanctions waivers for buyers of Iranian crude on 2 May. "We have an agreement with OPEC to maintain production at a certain level and this agreement is in force until July," Putin said last week on the sidelines of a summit in Beijing. "I can't imagine how the world energy market will react" after the waivers end in May, Putin said.

With agency inputs

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