New Delhi: Iran on Tuesday said it continues to import fuel from Reliance Industries, a statement that flies in the face of the claims by Mukesh Ambani firm that it had since last year stopped selling gasoline to the Islamic nation in an apparent bid to escape US sanctions.
“From our point of view, Reliance stopping gasoline exports to Iran is not correct,” Iranian ambassador to India Syed Mehdi Nabizadeh told reporters.
Reliance till 2008 mostly sold gasoline (petrol) to Iran, and late last year sources close to the company claimed that it had since April 2009 completely stopped shipments from its twin refineries at Jamnagar in Gujarat to that country.
When contacted on Tuesday Reliance spokesperson declined comments.
The US is seeking to restrict gasoline supplies from refiners to Iran over its suspected nuclear weapons programme. Some US Senators have proposed giving President Barack Obama the authority to impose sanctions against companies supplying gasoline to Iran.
“All I can say is it (fuel imports from Reliance) has not stopped,” Nabizadeh said.
Asked if Reliance was directly selling fuel to Iran or petrol cargoes sold to traders were being redirected from ports such as Dubai after minor blending, he said: “You know that better than me... we continue to get (fuel from Reliance).”
The statement by Nabizadeh comes on the back of similar comments by National Iranian Oil Company Managing Director Seifollah Jashnsaz.
“Without specifying any particular company, I can say we import gasoline and gas oil from India,” he had said on his visit to New Delhi on November 30, 2009.
When he was asked if Reliance was one of the suppliers, he had said: “The answer is positive.”
Sources had last year stated that Reliance, which is looking to acquire US-based chemicals company LyondellBasell, sells fuel to traders with a destination restriction that the product should not be sold to Iran.
Nabizadeh said India is Iran’s second largest buyer of crude oil after Japan. Last year it sold 500 million barrels of crude oil to India.
RIL buys 5-6 million tonnes a year of crude oil from Iran.
The company exports fuel on Freight on Board (FOB) basis to traders with clear instructions to restrict sales of fuel to Iran, sources had said.
They had claimed that Reliance had even put a “destination restriction” on the fuel it sells to traders like Vitol. The destination restriction means that the trader who buys fuel from Reliance cannot sell it in Iran.
Iran is the world’s fourth-largest oil exporter but lacks refining capacity to meet domestic demand