New Delhi: India’s oil imports from Iran rose 2.4% in July from a year ago, with some of the shipments among the first after a landmark deal that will allow Tehran to boost its exports in return for curbing its disputed nuclear programme.

Following the deal with six world powers, Iran is keen to regain market share. US and European Union sanctions that were toughened in 2011 and again in 2012 halved its exports to around 1 million barrels per day (bpd), slashing the Opec member’s oil revenues and crippling its economy.

Iran expects to raise oil output by 500,000 bpd as soon as sanctions are lifted and by a million bpd within months, oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said in remarks broadcast on Sunday.

But many analysts have said any significant increase in Iran’s oil output and exports won’t come until mid-2016.

India shipped in about 215,400 bpd of Iranian crude in July, down about 24% from the previous month, according to ship tracking data obtained by Reuters and a report compiled by Thomson Reuters Oil Research and Forecasts.

July volumes were the lowest since India took no oil from Iran in March under pressure from the United States to hold its shipments within sanction limits.

Tehran was India’s second-biggest oil supplier in the fiscal year to 31 March 2007, but as sanctions bit, it slipped to seventh by 2014/15, government data showed.

Under the accord reached in Vienna on 14 July, Iran will be subject to longer-term restrictions on its nuclear programme in return for the removal of US, UN and European sanctions.

The measures curtailing exports will be lifted next year, if the deal is approved by the US Congress and inspectors confirm Iran is in compliance with the limits to its nuclear activities.

Indian government officials have said the country will raise imports of Iranian oil if sanctions are lifted.

India, the world’s fourth-biggest oil consumer and Tehran’s top client after China, took 20% less Iranian oil at 216,400 bpd in the first seven months of this year, the shipping data showed.

For April-July, the first four months of the current fiscal year, India imported 283,000 bpd crude from Tehran, a growth of about 37.3% over the same period last year. Reuters

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