Iran Becomes Top Oil Supplier to India

IAS Prelims 2023

Iran overtook Saudi Arabia as India’s top oil supplier in October.

Iran used to be India’s second-biggest oil supplier, a position it ceded to Iraq after tough Western sanctions over its nuclear development programme limited Tehran’s exports and access to finance.

But India’s oil imports from Iran have shot up this year after those sanctions were lifted in January.

In October they surged more than threefold compared with the same month last year, rising to 789,000 barrels per day (bpd) as compared to 697,000 bpd supplied last month by Saudi Arabia.

Over the whole January to October period, though, Saudi Arabia still holds India’s top supply spot, at an average of 830,000 bpd versus Iraq’s 784,000 bpd and Iran’s 456,400 bpd.

Iran’s surge to the No.1 spot is due partly to less available crude from Saudi Arabia, which has increased its capacity to refine oil instead of just exporting more crude.

Saudi Arabia’s refining capacity has increased over time so it is not in a position to increase its exports further, whereas Iran is better placed to raise its output and sales to India.

The surge is also thanks to Iranian price discounts, which attracted purchases from India’s programme to build up its strategic petroleum reserves (SPR).

Last month India took in 2 million barrels of Iranian crude for the SPR stocks, and another 4 million barrels is expected to be shipped in November.

In the first seven months of its fiscal year, between April and October, India imported 523,200 bpd from Iran, compared to 249,100 bpd for the same period a year ago.