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US secretary of state John Kerry said that India, China and South Africa alongwith Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Taiwan have qualified for an exception to sanctions under America’s Iran Sanctions Act, based on additional significant reductions in the volume of their crude oil purchases from Iran .
In countries like China, India and Japan, Iranian oil constitutes more than 10 per cent of the total crude supply.
Notwithstanding US pressure, India announced in April this year, that it is looking at ways to allow refiners to import crude oil from Iran including plans to set up a fund of up to $368.4 million to back local insurers.
India is Iran’s second-largest buyer.
Iran’s oil minister Rostam Ghasemi was in India last month to discuss crude oil purchase, marine insurance, re-insurance cover for Indian refineries, and arrangement of ships for transportation.
“Both sides agreed to discuss outstanding issues related to the development of Farzad-B gas field,” said a May 27 joint statement by the two countries.
Iran has offered a production-sharing contract (PSC) to Indian firms to develop the Farzad-B gas field in its offshore Farsi block.
International sanctions have forced countries importing oil from Iran to provide alternative insurance, as in the case of Japan and now India, or use Iran-flagged tankers like China.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said that it appears that there is sufficient supply of non-Iranian oil to permit foreign countries to significantly reduce their purchases of Iranian oil.
“In this context, it is notable that many purchasers of Iranian crude oil have reduced or ceased altogether their purchases from Iran,” he said.
However, he noted that global oil consumption has exceeded production in recent months.
US has introduced a series of measures over the past week to step up the pressure on Iran over its nuclear programme, which Washington suspects is aimed at making weapons.
Iran has however repeatedly insisted its nuclear program is for generating electricity and medical research.
Iran remains one of the world’s largest oil producers. Its exports bring in tens of billions of dollars in revenue for the country.
With inputs from Agencies