New Delhi: The government has started loading Iranian crude in tankers owned by the Islamic Republic, industry sources said, marking a shift from a decades-old policy that required state-run refiners to transport oil in vessels owned by local shipping companies.
The move highlights the problems Iran’s top Asian customers are facing to keep oil supplies flowing in as western sanctions tighten. As a result of these measures, Iran’s daily oil exports in July could fall below half the average shipped in 2011, with Japan and South Korea halting all imports this month.
European sanctions that came into effect from 1 July ban insurers and reinsurers from covering shipments of Iranian oil. Around 90% of the world’s tanker fleet is covered by Western-based protection and indemnity (P&I) clubs, which insure against personal injury and environmental clean-up claims.
State-run Hindustan Petroleum is importing crude in a suezmax tanker belonging to National Iranian Tanker Company, according to an industry source familiar with Iran’s monthly shipping plans, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter. The ship is MT Clove, a second source said.
In all, Indian refiners are scheduled to lift about 300,650 barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian crude oil in July, according to the first source said.
The government allowed state refiners to import Iranian oil, with Tehran arranging shipping and insurance, from 1 July. Private refiners do not require such permission.
Essar Oil has recently loaded a cargo of about a million barrels from the Kharg port, the source said. NITC has allocated an Aframax vessel Amol to Essar in July for supplying two cargoes of 400,000 barrels each.
HPCL is scheduled to lift a second suezmax from Kharg this month, from 25-27 June, the source said. However, company sources said they may push back the dates because of a shutdown of some units at their Vizag refinery in southern India.
Indian Oil Corp, the country’s biggest refiner is not scheduled to lift oil from Iran this month. Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals is slated to load five aframaxes.
But a company source said it may lift only four cargoes instead of five. MRPL is buying an additional 600,000-barrel cargo from Saudi Arabia in July to partly offset the decline in Iranian volumes.