No pressure from US on import of oil from Iran:Govt

New Delhi: India is not under any pressure from the US on import of oil from Iran, the Government today assured the Lok Sabha and insisted that only sanctions imposed by the UN – and not from any nation – were heeded by the country.

Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister S Jaipal Reddy said during Question Hour that there was no pressure from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her recent visit here that India should not import oil from Iran. "Government of India is perfectly free to take a decision (on this issue)….We do not take note of sanctions by other countries," Reddy said, adding India only respects sanctions imposed by the UN against some countries on certain issues.

He assured the House that India`s sovereignty will never be compromised on the issue of importing oil from Iran. "So far as our sovereignty is concerned, we can assure that we will never allow any pressure," Reddy said. To another question, he maintained that India has been importing oil from Iran and will continue to do so.

"There will be less oil or more oil imported from Iran depending on demand. The oil companies will decide that. These things are not monitored by the government but by the companies," he said. Clinton had suggested that India should minimise oil import from Iran to put pressure on that country to curb its nuclear programme. Asked by a member about performance of oil refineries in India, Reddy said, "All refineries have been operating at optimal capacity…at more than 100 per cent…I can assure you there will be no shortage of petroleum products."

Regarding the Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemical Limited (MRPL), he said, "Production at MRPL was hampered for a short period during April 12-28, 2012, due to stoppage of water supply by the local administration. This resulted in shortfall of 7,415 metric tonne of LPG supply to the domestic market." Dispatch of export parcels were deferred by 10-15 days during April-May, he said.

Reddy said the issue has been sorted out and there is no shortage in production at present. A member demanded that an oil refinery be established in Barmer district of Rajasthan and the minister promised to look into the matter. Asked about the delay in starting the Paradip Oil Refinery, Reddy said this was due to local law and order problems and the state government would have to cooperate for it to become functional.