Indian refineries owe over $2 billion oil dues to Iran: Petroleum Minister

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Indian refiners owe $2.55 billion in oil dues to Iran, 90 per cent of which are payable by private sector Essar Oil Ltd, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Monday.

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Four Indian refiners had outstandings of $6.11 billion in May, 2016 when formal banking channels were opened with Iran after nearly four years. They came down to $2.55 billion as on 15 November after public sector refiners paid most of their dues to Iran, the minister said.

Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL) had an outstanding of $2.557 billion towards Iran as of May 20, of which it paid $2.355 billion and now owes Iran only $202 million, he said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.
Essar Oil, which the Ruia brothers have sold to Russian national oil company Rosneft in a $12.9-billion deal, had the biggest outstanding of $2.917 billion on May 20. Of this, it paid only $600 million and still owes $2.317 billion.

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“Following the lifting of sanctions on Iran on January 16, 2016 and re-establishment of banking channels from 20 May, 2016, Indian refineries have paid $3.563 billion out of $6.118 billion to Iran on account of payment due to National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC) for supply of crude oil,” he said.

State-owned Indian Oil Corp (IOC) has paid $538 million out of $550 million due to Iran while HPCL Mittal Energy Ltd, which operates a refinery at Bhatinda in Punjab, has cleared $52 million out of $76 million dues.

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Rosneft last month signed agreement to buy a 49 per cent stake in Essar Oil’s 20 million tonnes a year Vadinar refinery in Gujarat, adjacent port and petrol pumps, while Trafigura and United Capital Partners (UCP) split another 49 per cent equity.

The deal has an enterprise value of close to $12.9 billion – $10.9 billion being for a 20 million tonnes a year refinery in Gujarat and over 2,700 petrol pumps and another $2 billion for Vadinar port in Gujarat. The deal factors in Essar Oil’s debt of about $4.5 billion and about $2 billion debt with the port company.

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Also, the dues to Iran were to continue to be on Essar Oil books and the new owner will take responsibility of it.

To a separate question, Mr Pradhan said India imported 12.1 million tonnes of crude oil from Iran during April-September.

This compares to 12.7 million tonnes imported in whole of 2015-16 and 11 million tonnes in each of the two previous fiscal year.

Imports from Iran are second to only Saudi Arabia (20.4 million tonnes) and Iraq (19.6 MT).

In 2015-16, Iran was behind Saudi Arabia (40.4 MT), Iraq (36.8 MT), Nigeria (23.4 MT) and the UEA (15.7 MT), he said.

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