Mangalore refinery 'has plan B' if Iran oil disrupted

Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL) said on Wednesday that it is ready with a back-up plan in case crude oil imports from Iran are disrupted.

After announcing the company's third-quarter results, chairman Sudhir Vasudeva told newspersons that there are concerns over Irani crude in view of US-led sanctions against that country, and MRPL ''is keeping all options open''.

The Karanataka-based refinery is India's biggest importer of Irani crude.

Concerns about supply disruption escalated this week after the European Union on Monday agreed to ban oil imports from Iran starting 1 July, joining the US in putting pressure on Tehran over its nuclear ambitions. Iran on its part has threatened a military blockade of the Strait of Hormuz, through which most Gulf oil flows.

Further exacerbating MRPL's woes and those of Indian oil importers in general is the modes of payment, as the US and its allies try to block the Turkish route which India and other countries have been using so far.

During talks between officials of the two countries last week to resolve the issue, Iran asked India to pay for its oil partly in the yen because they are concerned that they may not get sufficient value from the rupee, which is not fully convertible, according to reliable reports.