U.S. considers sanction waivers on countries reducing imports of Iranian oil

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USA crude was down 0.7 percent at $73.80 a barrel.

Prince Mohammed told Bloomberg on Friday that the kingdom had met its promise to Washington to make up for Iranian oil supplies lost through USA sanctions, reimposed when the United States exited a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six powers.

The US administration is "prepared to work with countries that are reducing their imports on a case-by-case basis", the official added.

Oil fell to the lowest in a week in London on renewed hopes the US may soften the blow of sanctions on Iran's crude exports, and as Saudi Arabia promised to fill any shortfall.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration was in discussions with countries that want to continue buying Iranian oil after sanctions are reimposed early next month, according to two US officials.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the administration was "in the midst of an internal process" of considering exemptions for major cuts.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a deal reached in 2015 by the Obama administration, meant sanctions on Iran were dropped in exchange for Iran limiting its nuclear activities.

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Two domestic companies have placed orders to buy Iranian oil in November, oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Monday, adding that the government does not yet know if it will be granted a waiver from United States sanctions on Iran.

India, however, wants to keep importing oil from Iran, because Tehran offers discounts and incentives for them at a time when the Indian government is struggling with higher oil prices and a weakening local currency.

In a sign that Iran oil exports won't fall to nothing from November, India will buy 9 million barrels of Iranian crude next month, Reuters reported on Friday.

India has a strong trade and diplomatic relationship with both Iran and the US. According to CNBC, Pradhan said India may use rupees rather than dollars to buy the oil, in an attempt to skirt the sanctions.

Following U.S. President Donald Trump's pressure to tame surging prices, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said the world's top oil exporter is doing its part by pumping near record levels. No one else will believe him.

Oil rallied to the highest in nearly four years earlier this month on concerns that OPEC and its allies aren't raising output quickly enough to make up for the squeeze on Iranian shipments.

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