Tehran: Iran will not cut oil supplies to India despite warning refiners it could do so if months of unpaid bills are not settled soon, the Iranian Oil Ministry’s news website SHANA said on Sunday.
“A warning has been sent to those refineries that are debtors, but sending such a letter does not mean Iran’s oil exports have been cut, and we have no intention to cut our exports to the Indian market,” SHANA quoted Mohsen Ghamsari, head of international affairs at the National Iranian Oil Co. (NIOC), as saying.
In a letter to Indian refiners dated 27 June, Iran threatened to halt oil supplies in August unless the problem was resolved, sources at the refiners and NIOC told Reuters on Friday.
India owes Iran $2 billion for oil imports in recent months due to the payments dispute related to US moves to isolate Iran, which Washington suspects of seeking nuclear weapons. Tehran denies the charge.
The payments impasse was triggered in December when the Reserve Bank of India ended a regional clearing mechanism under US pressure.
Another NIOC official, deputy oil Minister Ahmad Ghalebani, said that although some news reports had said Iran had already cut its exports to India, it was not true.
“Iran’s crude exports to India are continuing, and the news reported in some media that Iran has cut its crude exports to India is absolutely wrong,” SHANA quoted him as saying.
The semi-official Fars news agency quoted Ghalebani as denying any formal warning letter had been sent.
“At bilateral talks, serious warnings were given to the Indian side about the possibility of halting Iran’s oil exports to India if a solution is not found to settle its debts.
“However, so far no official letter from the NIOC has been handed to the Indian side in this regard,” he said, according to Fars.
The Oil Ministry was not immediately able to answer Reuters’ questions on the status of the warning.
SHANA said Ghamsari was optimistic about talks with India.
“The talks with the Indians are still under way, and considering our country’s good relations with India, we are hopeful that this problem gets solved as soon as possible.”