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"Essar Group, a $39 billion Indian conglomerate, is looking to tap frozen Iranian oil revenues to pay for its steel exports to Tehran, in a novel attempt to work around Western financial sanctions against the OPEC member state. The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) proposed the payment mechanism in August, potentially opening a new way to release oil export proceeds tied up in India under Western sanctions linked to Tehran's disputed nuclear program. According to industry and government sources, and letters reviewed by Reuters, Essar has asked the Indian government to free it from paying its share of oil dues to Iran, and instead offset them against a $2.5 billion deal to supply steel plate to a NIOC affiliate... Supplying steel to Iran is 'prohibited', while dealing with NIOC 'is very likely to fall foul of European Union and U.S. sanctions legislation,' said Jonathan Moss, partner and head of marine and trade at law firm DWF in London... The Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012 lists steel as a commodity subject to sanctions... India settles 45 percent of its oil trade with Iran in rupees, with the rest held back by the refiners who buy the oil. These unpaid funds are released as and when the West allows Iran access to them. Essar Oil buys oil from NIOC, while Essar Steel agreed in January to supply steel plate to Iranian Gas Engineering and Development Co (IGEDC), a NIOC affiliate. Deliveries of steel began in May, said a knowledgeable person at STC, adding that steel worth $100 million had been shipped so far. A source at the oil ministry valued the sales at $550 million. Ghadir Movahedzadeh, NIOC's financial director, proposed drawing on the 55 percent tranche of oil dues to pay for the steel deliveries in a letter to Essar Oil dated Aug. 26." (Reuters, "Exclusive: Indian Essar's planned oil-for-steel deal tests Iran sanctions," 11/28/14)
“Essar Oil and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd were the only two Indian refiners that purchased oil from Iran in April.” (Reuters, “India's April Iran oil imports drop as buying spree cools,” 5/14/14)
"India is set to pay Iran $1.65 billion over the next three months under an interim nuclear deal that eases sanctions on Tehran and gives it access to $4.2 billion in blocked funds, four sources with knowledge of the matter said…The Indian government has asked refiners to make the first payment by mid-May, three of the sources said, adding that refiners will settle all three tranches if payment is allowed by the United States and European Union. ‘The individual companies' share is to be worked out,’ one of the sources said…Three of the sources said Iran had asked India to make payments into the Central Bank of Iran's account with Oman's Bank Muscat BMAO.OM in Omani rails. ‘All I can confirm is that some movement is happening on payments by India to Iran, but the modalities as to which bank will be used by India to remit funds is yet to be worked out,’ said a western diplomat privy to the matter, who was not one of the four previously cited sources. Indian refiners Essar Oil, Bangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd, Hindustan Petroleum Corp and HPCL-Mittal Energy Ltd together owe $3.6 billion to National Iranian Oil Co.” (Reuters, “India to make May-July oil payments to Iran - sources,” 4/23/14)
“Essar Oil, Iran's top Indian client, imported 18.6 percent more oil from Tehran in 2013/14 after a jump in shipment volumes in the final quarter to end-March, according to tanker arrival data obtained from trade sources and assessed by Thomson Reuters Oil Analytics. The private refiner shipped in about 231,100 barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian crude in March, its highest monthly shipment since at least January 2011, reflecting a growth of about 90 percent from February and six times more than the volume in March 2013, the data showed. The higher volumes in the quarter were probably triggered by an interim deal agreement Tehran and six world powers in November for a loosening of trade sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran's disputed nuclear programme. Essar shipped in about 105,700 bpd from Iran in the year to March 31, the data showed benefiting from discounts offered by Tehran. On the basis of actual loading from Iran, Essar lifted about 31 percent more oil than the contracted 80,000 bpd in the last fiscal year, a government source told Reuters. Iran accounted for about a third of Essar's total imports of about 3.28 million bpd in the last fiscal year, compared with 27.6 percent the year before, the data showed.” (Reuters, “India's Essar buys 18.6 pct more Iranian oil in 2013/14,” 4/17/14)
“Private refiner Essar Oil and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd had a deal to buy 80,000 bpd each from Iran in the last fiscal year. State-owned Indian Oil Corp signed for the other contracted term volumes of 25,000 bpd. Essar bought about 105,400 bpd, 32 percent higher than its contract, while MRPL shipped in 83,800 bpd, said the official. 'Essar took almost half of our overall imports from Iran (in 2013/14). They (Iran) are offering better deals than others in the Gulf,’ the official said. Essar Oil officials did not respond to an e-mailed request for further details.Iran has been offering free shipping and discounts on crude sales to Indian refiners to boost its exports.” (Reuters, “India cuts Iran oil imports nearly a fifth in 2013/14,” 4/17/14)
“Private refiner Essar Oil will be the biggest Indian buyer of Iran's oil this financial year, replacing state-owned Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemical. Essar will have lifted about 30 percent higher than its contract volume of 80,000 bpd, said another government source. A jump in Essar's Iran oil imports comes as Iran is giving India a discount on crude and offering free delivery. Essar has offered to take about 5.36 million barrels in March from Iran, taking its annual purchases to 105,000 bpd. MRPL's oil imports from Iran will average about 84,000 bpd this fiscal year versus contract levels of 80,000 bpd, the third government source said.” (Reuters, “Exclusive: India to slash Iran oil imports to meet nuclear deal parameters - sources,” 3/11/14)
“Essar Oil, a key buyer of Iranian oil, in January sharply raised imports from the Islamic state and also became the first Indian refiner to ship in the Brazilian heavy grade Polvo, tanker arrival data showed. India's oil imports from Iran more than doubled in January from a month earlier after sanctions on Tehran were eased due to an interim deal on its nuclear programme. Essar received 141,900 barrels per day (bpd) of oil from Iran last month, up from 54,200 bpd in December, according to the data obtained by Reuters. Shipments last month were about 31 percent higher than a year ago. Essar officials declined to comment. During the first 10 months of the fiscal year ending March 31, Essar imported 91,500 bpd oil, a decline of about 6 percent from the same period the year before, the data showed…Essar's total crude imports in January rose 81.5 percent from a low base in December, when it drew from inventory and cut purchases.” (Reuters, “India Essar's oil imports from Iran jump sharply,” 2/25/14)
"Essar Oil reduced its imports of Iranian oil by 16.4 percent in the first seven months of this fiscal year, tanker arrival data made available to Reuters showed. The private refiner received about 91,000 barrels per day (bpd) oil from Iran in April-October, the data showed, making up more than half of the total 170,000 bpd that India took from the sanctions-hit nation. The United States renewed six-month waivers on sanctions for India and other major buyers including China and South Korea last week in exchange for reduced purchases of oil from Iran. India's overall purchases from Iran for the April-October period are down about 40 percent from the same period a year ago as the state-run refiners cut volumes substantially…Essar's Iranian oil imports in the first ten months of the calendar year were down about 32.7 percent to 84,100 bpd. Last year, the refiner was stepping up purchases ahead of the start of additional sanctions in July 2012. Essar shipped in 106,000 bpd from Iran in October, a growth of 9.8 percent over September, the data shows." (Reuters, "India's Essar Apr-Oct Iran oil imports down 16.4 pct y/y-trade," 12/2/13)
"Indian refiners have asked the government to clarify if they can pay Iran for crude in euros after the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) requested settlement of some debts through a Turkish bank, Indian officials said on Wednesday…India now owes Iran about $5.3 billion for oil imports, government and refining sources said last week. In mid-October, NIOC informed Indian refiners that Halkbank was ready to restart channelling the payments to Iran, the sources told Reuters, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter. NIOC said it had been informed that Halkbank could be used again by Iran's central bank. It was unclear from the communication from NIOC what had changed that would allow the payments to restart without contravening U.S. sanctions, the sources said…Indian refiners have yet to restart payments via Halkbank and have asked the government for guidance, the sources said…Indian refiners Essar Oil, Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd, Hindustan Petroleum and Indian Oil Corp have all bought crude from Iran and owe payment, sources said." (Reuters, "Indian refiners puzzle over Iran request for euro oil payment-sources," 11/13/13)
"Iran is offering free delivery of crude to major client India, industry sources said, signalling that tough Western sanctions which have slashed its exports in half are --driving Tehran to increasingly desperate measures to keep oil flowing…Iran's remaining Indian clients - Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd, Essar Oil and Indian Oil Corp - could save freight of 70 cents to $1 a barrel on purchases from Iran, said one of the sources…India is one of Iran's few remaining clients along with other Asian buyers China, Japan and South Korea. (Reuters, "Iran offers to ship crude to India for free to boost sales," 11/7/13)
"Refiner Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL.NS) was the biggest importer of Iranian oil in September, replacing Essar Oil (ESRO.NS) by shipping in 133,000 bpd, the data showed." (Reuters, "India's Iran oil imports drop as refiners await insurance fund," 10/29/13)
"Oil and container trade between India and Iran has been disrupted due to uncertainty over insurance cover, leaving some ships stranded outside ports in both countries, industry sources said. The delays had occurred because New Delhi had not yet extended approval for Iranian underwriters to provide insurance for container and tanker vessels calling at Indian ports, they said…A three-month approval by India for Iran's Kish P&I and Moallem Insurance Co to cover container and tanker vessels calling at Indian ports lapsed on September 27…Two Iranian vessels carrying oil for Indian refiner Essar Oil (ESRO.NS) -- Sundial, an aframax sized tanker, and a very large crude carrier Sunshine -- were waiting at an Indian port, the sources said." (Reuters, "Iranian trade with India hit by insurance delay - sources," 10/8/13)
"India aims to cut Iranian crude imports by 15 percent this fiscal year, the oil secretary said on Tuesday, differing from the oil minister who recently said he wanted to hold the shipments at last year's levels. Ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the United States last week, Oil Minister M. Veerappa Moily said Iranian imports should be held steady at 260,000 barrels per day (bpd) to save as much as $8.5 billion in foreign exchange as Tehran accepts partial payment in rupees. However, Oil Secretary Vivek Rae, the Petroleum Ministry's top bureaucrat, said on Tuesday that India targets oil imports of around 220,000 bpd from Iran in the year through March 2014…Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals and Essar Oil - the only Indian refiners currently importing Iranian crude - will import about 80,000 bpd each this fiscal year." (Reuters, "India aims to cut Iran oil imports by 15 pct - oil secretary," 10/1/13)
"India's Essar Oil imported 21.1 percent more Iranian oil in June compared with a year earlier and shipped in Kazakhstan's CPC blend for the first time, tanker arrival data made available to Reuters showed, as the private refiner increased its appetite for testing new grades after expansion. Essar was the only Indian client of Iranian oil in June buying 138,900 barrels per day (bpd), a growth of 16.3 percent over May. The refiner, however, has cut Iranian oil imports by about a third in the first half of this year when it received 86,300 bpd as it stepped up purchases last year ahead of sanctions starting in July 2012... However, Essar continued using Iranian oil based on legal advice that EU sanctions are not applicable in this situation, a document made available to Reuters showed. But there is some uncertainty as it is up to reinsurers to interpret the sanctions." (Reuters, "Table-India Essar's June Iran Oil Imports Up 21.1 pct-trade," 7/24/13)
"India's imports of crude oil from Iran more than halved in June from a year ago, as refiner Essar Oil became the only remaining Indian client of the sanctions-hit country, tanker data obtained by Reuters showed." (Reuters, "India's Iranian Oil Imports More than Half in June-trade," 7/23/13)
"That has left the country's biggest refiner, state-owned Indian Oil Corp - whose insurance coverage is due for renewal only in November - and private refiner Essar Oil as Iran's only Indian clients, according to sources... This means Essar Oil would be Iran's sole customer in India from June to later this year, unless other Indian refiners find a way to insure plants processing Iranian crude or sanctions are eased." (Reuters, "India cuts Iran oil imports 42 pct, takes Venezuelan, other crudes," 6/17/2013)
"Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd and Essar Oil have said they would halt imports from Iran because of insurance problems, Vivek Rae told reporters." (Reuters, "India plans reinsurance fund to cover refiners using Iranian oil," 3/24/2013)
"Essar Oil has more than halved oil imports from Iran in November and aims to reduce purchases further, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said, strengthening New Delhi's hopes of a continued waiver from U.S. sanctions. Privately-owned Essar was Iran's top Indian client in April to October, temporarily replacing state-run Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd, according to data available to Reuters, taking more than its term deal's average quantities... In November, Essar imported about 265,000 tonnes or about 64,500 barrels per day (bpd) crude from Iran, a decline of about 55 percent from the previous month and about a third of its imports a year ago, the source said... 'Essar will continue to reduce purchases from Iran as it wants to bring down imports from Iran to about 85,000 barrels per day in this fiscal year,' said the source. Essar imported about 109,000 bpd from Iran during April-October, according to Reuters data, and has been criticised by state-run refiners for not cooperating with them in India's effort to reduce shipments from the Islamic nation... Essar has an annual deal with Iran to import about 100,000 bpd oil in this fiscal year ending March 31, 2013 and the planned reduction is in line with a verbal directive from the government to reduce imports by 15 percent. Essar, which operates a 400,000 bpd refinery at Vadinar in western Gujarat state, has meanwhile significantly raised processing of heavy and ultra-heavy grades, including those from Latin America, to improve refining margins... Essar aims to buy 15-20 percent of its oil needs from the domestic market, 35-40 percent from Latin American sources, and 30-40 percent from the Middle East, it said in May." (Reuters, "Essar slashes Iran imports in Nov; to continue with cuts-source," 12/4/2012)
"While India's state-run refiners are adhering to the government's verbal order to cut imports from Iran by at least 15 percent, their efforts could be undermined by private refiner Essar and now HMEL... Essar sources, however, said their Iranian crude purchases would average 85,000 bpd in financial 2012/13 (April-March), a decline of 15 percent from an originally contracted 100,000 bpd. From April-August Essar has bought an average 102,000 bpd." (Reuters, "India's HMEL bought 2 million barrels of Iranian oil: sources," 10/13/2012)
"Essar Oil, the only private refiner in India that buys Iranian oil, has raised imports of oil from Tehran by a third in July compared with June and about 37 percent from a year ago, according to tanker discharge data made available to Reuters. Essar has renewed its term deal with Iran to buy 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) oil in 2012/13 (April-march) but plans to cut purchases by 15 percent after a verbal directive by the government. However, the refiner has shipped in an average 104,000 bpd since April." (Reuters, "India Essar's July Iran oil imports rise a third from June-trade," 8/31/12)
"Falling imports pushed Iran to sixth position in the list of India's biggest suppliers of oil in July, compared with the third position it enjoyed in June and No. 4 a year ago. The shortfall is being made up with extra barrels from the world's biggest exporter, Saudi Arabia, as well as the United Arab Emirates, which emerged as the fourth-biggest supplier to India. While state-run refiners have stepped up imports from Nigeria, which was third-biggest supplier in July, private refiner Essar Oil has turned its focus to Latin America. Essar, which raised the use of heavy and ultra-heavy crude oil in April-June, has signed a deal to buy 12 million barrels of oil from Colombia . . . In July Essar emerged as Iran's top Indian client replacing Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals, which lifted only a fifth of planned Iran imports in July. MRPL is looking at alternatives to make up for the Iran shortfall . . . Essar's imports rose by a third in July to 154,400 bpd compared with June, the data showed, while MRPL's declined 86 percent to 22,200 bpd . . . Essar has renewed its annual deal of 100,000 bpd with Iran for this fiscal year starting April 1 but plans to lift 15 percent less volumes, while MRPL has reduced the size of its deal to 100,000 bpd compared with 124,000 bpd of 2011/12." (Reuters, "India cuts July Iran oil imports by over 40 pct y/y-trade data," 8/21/12)
"Essar Oil, the only private refiner in India that buys Iranian oil, has significantly raised imports from the sanctions-hit nation in June, reversing the declining trend of the previous three months, ahead of tighter western sanctions that came into effect from July, according to tanker discharge data made available to Reuters…The private refiner more than trebled monthly imports from Iran in June to 114,700 bpd -- and they were about 70 percent more than a year ago. Essar is set to become the biggest Indian buyer from the Islamic Republic in July replacing Mangalore Refineries and Petrochemicals Ltd…Essar got nearly 44 percent of its crude imports from Iran in January-June. Overall imports by Essar rose nearly 17 percent during January-June to 284,400 bpd, the data shows." (Reuters, "India Essar's June Iran oil imports soar, break 3 mth trend," 7/19/2012)
"India's biggest buyer of Iranian oil may only import one-fifth of the 3.3 million barrels of crude it had scheduled for July due to insurance and shipping difficulties caused by European Union sanctions on Tehran, industry sources said.
The possible drop in imports by state-owned refiner Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL) underscores the problems the EU sanctions, which ban most of the world's major insurance firms from covering shipments of Iranian oil, have created for Iran's major Asian customers China, India and Japan since coming into effect on July 1.
Along with U.S. sanctions, the EU measures, which include an oil embargo, has so far halved Iran's year-on-year oil sales…India had initially allowed state-owned refiners to use Iranian tankers to ship oil purchases from Iran but swiftly backtracked to benefit its own shipping industry, stipulating that state-run oil firms must use Indian ships and allowing limited coverage by state-run insurers for Iranian cargoes.
Private energy firm Essar Oil, which is not restricted by the government's shipping and insurance regulations on Iran, on Wednesday received 2 million barrels of oil in an NITC tanker." (Reuters, "India's main Iran oil buyer may cut July imports," 6/12/12)
"India's Essar Oil, one of Iran's key Indian clients, has significantly reduced purchases from the santions-hit nation in May and switched to Latin American grades, which accounted for about a third of its overall imports during the month, tanker discharge data made available to Reuters show. Essar, which earlier this week completed an expansion of its Vadinar refinery in western Gujarat state to double capacity to 400,000 barrels per day (bpd), stepped up imports from Iran in January-March to meet last fiscal year's commitment and build stocks by July when tighter sanctions come into effect, making payments, insurance and supplies more uncertain.It bought about 33,000 bpd in May, down more than 70 percent both from April and a year ago. In April its Iranian oil imports declined by about a quarter from March and 6 percent from a year ago. Essar got nearly half its crude imports from Iran in January-May. Overall imports by Essar rose 16 percent during January-May, the data shows. The refiner significantly raised imports from Iraq in May, to replace Iranian volumes. Essar, whose crude slate comprises mainly Middle Eastern grades, also made a rare purchase of Venezuela's Leona 22 grade and Brazil's Jubarte oil in April-May, as the complexity of its plant has also been increased to process heavy and ultra heavy grades. Essar imported about 127,000 bpd oil from Iran in January-May, data showed." (Reuters, "India Essar's May Iran imports down over 70 pct- Trade," 6/8/12)
"India does not allow state refiners to import oil on a delivered basis, a facility which privately-run Essar Oil has begun using." (Reuters, "Indian refiner MRPL turns to Iran for oil insurance -sources," 5/21/2012)
"Essar Oil Ltd. (ESOIL), the operator of India's second-largest non-state refinery, provisionally hired a crude tanker to load from the Iranian port of Kharg Island, shipping data show... Rabin Ghosh, a Mumbai-based spokesman for Essar, declined to comment." (Bloomberg, "Essar Refinery in India Makes Preliminary Booking of Iran Crude," 5/10/2012)
"Iran is poised to lose at least 192,000 barrels a day of crude-supply contracts, or about 9.5 percent of its global exports, as Asian buyers curb purchases amid western sanctions targeting the nation's oil trade. Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd. (MRPL) and Essar Oil Ltd., India's biggest buyers of Iranian crude, and China International United Petroleum & Chemical Co. have reduced or plan to cut purchases from the Islamic Republic by as much as 15 percent. China and India are Iran's largest customers. In Japan, the only Asian country to get an exemption from U.S. sanctions after it demonstrated reductions in purchases, Cosmo Oil Co. plans to cut imports by 25 percent, while JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp. suspended talks with the Persian Gulf nation over a 10,000 barrel-a-day contract." (Bloomberg, "Iran May Lose 9.5% of Oil Contracts as Asian Buyers Cut Imports," 5/3/12)
"India's top two importers of crude oil from Iran will reduce shipments from the Persian Gulf nation by at least 15% this financial year, the latest sign that New Delhi is playing ball with Washington's efforts to shut-down Iran oil trade despite public pronouncement from Indian officials that they will continue to buy from Tehran. The government has asked state-owned Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd. and Essar Oil Ltd., a private company, to cut their imports in the year through March 2013 due to demands from the U.S., said two people with direct knowledge of the matter. 'Definitely, there is a lot of pressure from the U.S.,' one of the people said. A spokesman for India's oil ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment." (WSJ, "Under U.S Pressure, India to Cut Iran Imports," 5/2/12)
According to its website, "Essar Oil is a fully integrated oil & gas company of international scale with strong presence across the hydrocarbon value chain from exploration & production to oil retail. It has a global portfolio of onshore and offshore oil & gas blocks, with about 45,000 sq km available for exploration. Essar Oil has over 300,000 bpsd (barrels per stream-day) of crude refining capacity that is being expanded to 750,000 bpsd. There are over 1,300 Essar-branded oil retail outlets in various parts of India" (Company Website).
Essar Oil is part of the Essar Group, a “multinational conglomerate and a leading player in the sectors of Steel, Oil & Gas, Power, Communications, Shipping Ports & Logistics, Construction and Minerals. With operations in more than 20 countries across five continents, the group employs 60,000 people, with revenues of about USD 15 billion” (Company Website).
Essar’s 10.5 mtpa refinery in Vadinar, Gujarat “has the capability to produce petrol and diesel suitable for use in India as well as advanced international markets” (Company Website).
"The top Indian oil importer in the first quarter was Essar Oil, buying 142,000 bpd compared with 88,000 bpd in the first quarter of 2011, the Petrologistics data showed. Essar plans to expand its refining capacity and will raise the capacity of its giant Vadinar refinery to 405,000 bpd this year." (Reuters, "India replaces China as Iran's top oil client," 4/13/2012)
As of April 2010, Essar Oil imports 50 thousand barrels of crude oil per day from Iran. (Reuters, "Iran’s Crude Oil Buyers in Europe, Asia," April 18 2010)
"So keen is the Essar Group to keep its plans for a $1.6 billion steel plant in Minnesota safe, that it has agreed to back away from a proposed oil refinery in Iran. In a letter to Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty dated Oct. 31, Essar Group’s Americas president, Madhu Vuppuluri, said the company was exploring the possibility of building a refinery in Iran and bidding on exploration blocks, but would adhere to U.S. regulations limiting companies’ operations in the country." (Forbes, "Essar Backs Off On Iran," 11/1/2007)
Essar continued to develop its business in Iran as of 2006, as mentioned in an article listed under Essar media reports from that year: “Essar Global is also expanding its base in Qatar, Iran and Sharjah” (Business Standard, "Essar to raise $530 mn, pledges Hutch stake part," October 05, 2006).
Essar’s growing trade with Iran in the early 2000s was described in a media report found on the Essar company website: “The Essar group intends to increase import of crude from Iran and export of steel - produced by Essar Steel - to the West Asian country in a big way." "This is apart from the Indian industry's overall attempt to increase exports to Iran as the balance of trade is currently heavily tilted in its favour.” “The Chairman of the Essar Group, Mr Shashikant N. Ruia, told Business Line: ‘We will be exploring the possibility of increasing our trade with Iranian companies in general.’ Mr Ruia is a member of the high-powered trade delegation of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) to Iran” (Business Line, "Essar to increase trade with Iran," April 08, 2001).