India’s top bank to stop handling Iran oil payments…

By Nidhi Verma

NEW DELHI, June 15 (Reuters) – India’s oil imports from Iran will be hit from the end of August as the State Bank of India has informed refiners it will not handle payments for crude from the Middle Eastern nation from November, the finance head of Indian Oil Corp said on Friday.

Such a move from the Indian state-controlled bank would come after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of an international nuclear deal with Iran on May 8 and said he would reimpose sanctions within 180 days.

“(Oil) loading will be affected from end-August under the current mechanism unless a new payment route is established,” IOC’s A.K. Sharma told Reuters.

SBI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Local refiners use SBI, the country’s biggest bank, and Germany-based Europaeisch-Iranische Handelsbank AG (EIH) to pay in euros for purchase of Iranian oil.

India’s Reliance Industries Ltd, owner of the world’s biggest refining complex, plans to halt oil imports from Iran while Rosneft-promoted Nayara Energy has started cutting purchases from this month, sources said.

India, Iran’s top oil client after China, was one of the few nations that continued to trade with Tehran during a previous round of Western sanctions. But it cut its crude imports to win its waiver from the U.S. sanctions.

The South Asian nations has said it does not follow U.S. sanctions but companies and banks with links to the U.S. financial system could be liable to penalties if they do not comply.

Some sanctions take effect after a 90-day “wind-down” period ending on Aug. 6, and the rest, notably on the petroleum sector, after a 180-day “wind-down period” ending on Nov. 4.

Iran offers Indian refiners a 60-day credit period on oil sales, which means payment for cargoes loaded from end-August will be due in November.

(Reporting by Nidhi Verma Editing by Joseph Radford)


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