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India gets first Iran oil after embargo

India gets first Iran oil after embargo

Bangalore: India received its first crude oil shipment from Iran after an insurance embargo by the European Union took effect on 1 July, forcing the Persian Gulf nation to disguise its tankers in order to haul the fuel to its second biggest customer.

The 1996-built oil super tanker, Motion, with a capacity to load 298,731 tonnes of crude was unloading the oil through a single-point mooring (SPM) facility located at Vadinar, which comes within the limits of the Union government-controlled Kandla port in Gujarat.

Motion is ultimately owned by state-run National Iranian Tanker Co. (NITC) and the National Iranian Oil Co., but has changed its name from Najm to circumvent sanctions.

It has also switched its flag registry from Malta to flag of convenience, Tuvalu, and registered under a shell firm in the Seychelles called Motion Shipping Co., according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence, a London-based vessel tracking data company. A flag of convenience refers to the practice of registering a vessel in a country that is different from that of the ship’s owners.

Motion sailed from Kharg Island, Iran, on 6 July, carrying oil for Essar Oil Ltd. The details provided by Lloyd’s List Intelligence matched with the information given by Bariya at Vadinar port control room.

At least two executives at Mumbai-based Atlantic Shipping Pvt. Ltd, the local agent for the ship,?confirmed?the ship’s details and said it was off-loading the crude oil. India aims to buy 310,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil from Iran under contracts during the fiscal from April to March, which includes 100,000 bpd of purchases by Essar Oil, the only private customer. Essar Oil could not be reached for comment immediately.

The embargo by the European Union bans firms from insuring Iranian shipments, forcing India to ask Iran’s oil shipper, NITC, to deliver crude in its vessels.

India is the world’s fourth largest oil importer and second biggest customer of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries member nation. NITC itself is covered under sanctions.

In June, the shipping ministry allowed state-run oil refiners to import Iranian crude on ships arranged by the Persian Gulf nation to sidestep a European Union ban on insurance for such shipments.

Mint could not independently verify whether the third-party liability cover of the oil super tanker conformed to the new port entry rules notified by the government in April.

“The ship has furnished all documents pertaining to its third party liability cover," said an executive at Atlantic Shipping, without going into the specifics. He declined to be named because of company policy.

Bariya at the Vadinar port control room would not confirm whether the ship’s insurance papers complied with the rules.

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