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India Hopes To Restart Oil Imports From Iran, Venezuela

India would like to have more opportunities to work for diversifying its sources of crude, including by resuming oil imports from Venezuela and Iran under President Biden, according to India’s Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

Speaking at a webinar on Wednesday, the Indian minister said, as carried by Reuters, “As a buyer I would like to have more buying places. I should have more destinations to go for purchasing (oil).” Pradhan was replying to a question whether he hopes the Biden Administration would ease the current strict sanctions against the two OPEC producers, Iran and Venezuela.

The Trump Administration has been stepping up sanctions against Iran and Venezuela since 2018, looking to cut off oil sales from the two countries.

Joe Biden, however, has pledged to offer Tehran a path back to diplomacy and a return to the nuclear deal. That is, if Iran returns to full compliance with that agreement, hammered out while Biden was President Obama’s vice president.

After the sanctions on Iran and Venezuela’s oil exports were tightened last year to include anyone dealing with crude from those two producers, India stopped importing oil from Iran in May 2019 and has significantly cut purchases from Venezuela.

Reliance Industries, the owner of the largest refinery in India and the world, stopped buying Venezuelan crude oil in June this year. Reliance Industries is not alone in shunning Venezuelan oil, fearing repercussions from Washington. India’s second-largest refiner, Nayara Energy, has also stopped buying Venezuelan crude, switching to Canadian, Kuwaiti, and Ecuadorian oil, according to Bloomberg shipping data.

India, the world’s third-biggest oil importer, relies on imports for more than 80 percent of its crude consumption, with Middle Eastern crude accounting for nearly 80 percent of its imports.

Last month, Pradhan urged OPEC to review its pricing policies for the Asian market and end the premium it puts on its crude for Asia.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for