As US sanctions kick in, Indian refiners brace for costly crude

In Threat, Soleimani Says Iran Will Never Negotiate With Trump

China is Iran's number-one customer, while India is the second-largest buyer of Iranian oil, so the end of the United States waivers will mostly affect refiners in those two oil importers who will be scrambling to source crude from other sources or risk secondary USA sanctions.

The May 2 deadline is expected to deliver an oil shock to the leading economies of the world as U.S. President Donald Trump continues to insist that leading importers like India should zero out energy supply from Iran.

"We are apprehensive that that impact can translate into inflation, (and) higher oil prices", that could affect the common person in India, Shringla said.

Many of India's oil refineries are calibrated to process crude oil from Iran and "it is not possible to suddenly convert those refineries (to run ) some other form of crude", Shringla said.

Imports from sanction-hit Venezuela dropped 5.56% to 17.32 MT last fiscal year, against 18.34 MT imported in the previous year. In principle we believe sanctions do not work.

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Tehran has warned that any direct USA efforts to stop its oil exports could lead to the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, the strategic waterway through which about 20 per cent of the world's total oil supplies pass.

Reports of the strengthened Chinese-Indian cooperation in potentially forming an oil buyers' club come just as the United States sanction waivers for all Iranian oil customers expire this week.

"Crude prices are off. after the weekly API oil inventory report showed a build of 6.8 million barrels, up from the draw of 3.1 million barrels we saw last week", said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at futures brokerage OANDA. Many observers feared the rallying cry could lead to escalating violence and further disruptions to crude supply, though the OPEC-member nation's oil-producing regions are far afield of the capital of Caracas.

And it is not only geographic proximity that matters but also a very favorable price - for instance, India will have a hell of a time finding a similarly cheap source of crude unless Saudi Arabia eases its pricing and production policy. Currently, India's major suppliers are Saudi Arabia and Iraq. China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said, "Here I'd like to repeat my answer that China firmly opposes the unilateral sanctions and so-called "long-arm jurisdictions" imposed by the USA". USA was ranked 18th in 2017-18.

Trading was thin as May 1 is a holiday in many markets. "We are looking at possibilities". Around 30-40% of the crude requirement is imported on a spot basis.

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