India will break U.S. sanctions and keep importing Iranian oil

India will buy nine million barrels of Iranian oil in November, in a signal the world's third-biggest oil importer will continue purchasing crude from the Islamic republic despite U.S. sanctions coming into force on November 4.

Iranian crude exports, which reached a peak of some 2.5 million barrels after sanctions were lifted in 2016, have plunged by over 500,000 barrels a day and are expected to dive further when expanded sanctions on oil take effect next month.

The Indian Oil Corporation and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals have ordered a total 1.25 million tonnes of crude.

Making this projection in an interview with Reuters at the World Bank Conference in London, he stated that so long as US sanctions take effect on Iran in November, "I do not expect the price to close less than $80 this year".

Speaking at an event here, Pradhan said two of India's state-owned companies had contracted for Iranian crude for November.

On the fall of crude price, oil watchers likened the cause on expectations that some Iranian oil exports will keep flowing despite USA sanctions, easing a strain on supplies. "Iran's oil can not be replaced by Saudi Arabia", the minister added.

The Trump administration reimposed an initial tranche of economic sanctions on Iran in August, and will implement a second tranche in November.

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While India wants to continue importing Iranian oil, albeit a reduced volume, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month stated that Washington would consider waivers on the embargo but made it clear that these would be time-limited, if granted.

With the European Union considering the creation of a "special objective vehicle" before November to facilitate trade with Iran, India hopes to find a way to settle payments to Tehran. Worldwide crude oil prices had reached a record high of $147 per barrel in July 2009.

The news of India's continued importation of Iranian crude had a positive effect on oil prices, with Brent crude down 1.6% to $82.79 at the time of writing on Monday morning.

"We're already seeing demand outstripping supply", said Fiona Howarth, CEO of Octopus Electric Vehicles, a British car-leasing company.

Refiners have already announced purchases of oil from Iran for November at levels nearly similar to those in October, despite the start of the sanctions on the 4 November.

Reeling from high oil prices, India has also reminded Saudi Arabia of the promise by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) of increasing production by an additional 1 million barrels per day, said Pradhan. The Indian basket represents the average of Oman, Dubai and Brent crude. It added that the effective reversal of fuel price deregulation would also constrain future private sector investments in the sector.

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