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India was one of the key buyers of Iranian and Venezuelan oil before President Trump imposed sanctions on the two OPEC members.
According to India's Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, India would like to have more opportunities to diversify its crude sources, including the resumption of oil imports from Venezuela and Iran under President Biden.
Speaking at a webinar on Wednesday, the Indian minister said, “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. If Iran returns to full compliance with that agreement, it 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 largest refinery owner 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. According to Bloomberg shipping data, India’s second-largest refiner, Nayara Energy, has also stopped buying Venezuelan crude, switching to Canadian, Kuwaiti, and Ecuadorian oil.
India, the world’s third-biggest oil importer, relies on imports for more than 80 percent of its crude consumption, with Middle Eastern oil 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.