Iran retracts threat– will continue crude supplies to India

London: Iran backed off Sunday from a threat issued earlier to Indian refiners to block crude oil exports from August, and said it would continue supplies to the country. India is one of the top buyers of Iranian crude and these supplies are estimated to constitute between 12-14 per cent of all its crude imports.

Mohsen Ghamsari, director for international affairs at the National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC), was quoted by the Iranian oil ministry's website, Shana, as saying, "We do not intend to halt our export to [the] Indian market."

India and Iran have a running dispute over payments for crude oil imports as the UN sanctions regime has blocked all normal routes of payments. India's central bank, the Reserve Bank of India, earlier blocked payments through the Asian Clearing Union, a regional facility for payments among member nations for eligible transactions.

Till recently India made use of a German bank account to clear payments owed to Iran for oil imports, but that facility too was blocked by the German government under US pressure.

Just last week, NIOC warned Indian refineries in a letter that it could interrupt deliveries in August if they outstanding payments weren't cleared.

Ghamsari confirmed that such a letter was indeed dispatched, but said it "does not constitute the halt of oil export to India."