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At Least One Major Country Won't Be Playing Ball With the U.S. on Iran Oil Sanctions

David Meyer

The U.S.’s sanctions on Iranian oil come into effect on Nov. 4, but at least one country says it won’t be playing ball.

India’s oil and natural gas minister, Dharmendra Pradhan, confirmed Monday that two Indian oil companies would be buying Iranian crude in November. Reuters had reported on Friday that India would buy 9 million barrels of Iranian oil next month.

India is the world’s third-largest oil importer, and Iran’s second-biggest oil customer after China. China is reportedly reducing its oil imports from Iran, though it’s not likely to fully comply with the U.S. demands.

The Indian orders have reportedly been placed by Indian Oil Corp (IOC) and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL). According to CNBC, Pradhan said India may use rupees rather than dollars to buy the oil, in an attempt to skirt the sanctions.

The U.S. is imposing the sanctions because Iran has reneged on a 2015 nuclear deal—a point on which other major powers disagree—and because it wants Iranian forces to pull out of Syria and Iraq.

The news of India’s continued importation of Iranian crude had a positive effect on oil prices, with Brent crude down 1.6% to $82.79 at the time of writing on Monday morning. The industry has been worrying that an entirely effective ban on Iranian oil exports would strain supplies.

Another factor easing those fears was a Friday Reuters report that cited an unnamed U.S. government official as saying the Trump administration is considering waivers on its sanctions for countries that agree to reduce their imports of Iranian oil.

White House National Security Advisor John Bolton said only last week that the administration wanted to avoid all waivers and see Iranian oil and gas exports entirely staunched, but that it might not be able to achieve that aim.

Pradhan reportedly said Monday that India does not know if it would get a waiver from the U.S.