India Will Continue to Buy Iran's Oil Despite U.S. Sanctions : Iranian Foreign Minister
India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj with her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif (Photo: Twitter, MEAIndia)

Despite the looming sanctions scheduled to hit buyers of Iranian oil from November 4, India will continue to buy oil from Iran, Tehran said on Wednesday. Iran’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made the remark after meeting his Indian counterpart External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New York. The two met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, according to a Reuters report on Thursday, quoting an ANI video.

“Our Indian friends have always been categorical in terms of their intention to continue economic cooperation and import of oil from Iran,” Zarif said, after the meeting. “We have comprehensive cooperation with India and that comprehensive cooperation also includes energy cooperation because Iran has always been a reliable source of energy for India.”

Iran has consistently been one of India’s top energy suppliers and India had planned to raise its imports from Tehran as New Delhi had been promised lucrative incentives. India had planned to double its oil imports from Iran for 2018/19 before the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and imposed sanctions on it.

Indian Oil Corporation, Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum – India’s four refiners imported about 205,600 barrels per day Iranian oil in the previous fiscal year of 2017.

India is also allowing state refiners to import Iranian oil with Tehran arranging tankers and insurance after firms including the country’s top shipper Shipping Corp of India halted voyages to Iran due to U.S. sanctions, sources said. This is something China is already doing by shifting its Iranian oil imports to vessels owned by National Iranian Tanker Company.

However, the U.S. sanctions are definitely on India’s mind as they were discussed in the India-U.S. 2+2 dialogue earlier this month. Indian Oil Corporation Chairman Sanjiv Singh in an interview earlier this year had said, “We have a very wide crude basket. There’s nothing we can’t procure, there’s nothing we can’t process,” Singh said. “So, even if Iran supplies get disrupted, the supplies to the Indian market will still continue. That’s assured.”