India cuts crude import from Iran

New Delhi: Government on Tuesday disclosed in Parliament that India`s crude import target from Iran has been reduced by 11 per cent in this financial year to 15.5 million tonnes, a statement that comes against the backdrop of US pressure on the issue.

"Total crude oil imported from Iran by Indian companies during the period 2010-11 and 2011-12 is 18.50 million tons and 17.44 million tons respectively. The target fixed for import of crude oil from Iran for the year 2012-13 is approximately 15.5 million tons," Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas R P N Singh said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today.

The decision by India, which relies on Tehran for 12 per cent of its 80 per cent of imports of crude, comes against the backdrop of US urging India to cut oil import from Iran. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was in India last week, stated that India needed to further reduce imports from Iran to win waiver from US sanctions. It has granted waivers to the sanctions for Japan and 10 European countries but has left out China and India, Iran`s biggest clients.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, in reply, had said Iran is a key country for India`s energy needs. India, which currently importing crude from over 30 countries, has not publicly said it was aiming to cut back oil imports from Iran but has unofficially asked its top importers to prune shipments from Tehran. In the written reply, R P N Singh, however, said the quantum of crude oil imported by Indian refineries from various sources is decided by them on the basis of technical, commercial and other considerations.

"In order to reduce its dependence on any particular region of the world, India has been consciously trying to diversify its sources of crude oil imports to strengthen the country`s energy security," he said.