Oil prices steady after Iranian exports fall further

A fuel station in Nairobi

According to Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, India will continue to import oil from Iran in November despite the looming USA sanctions on that country.

Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said two state-owned oil refiners, Indian Oil Corporation and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals, had signed contracts to import 1.25 million tonnes of Iranian oil next month, Mint newspaper reported.

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.

But Iran, OPEC's third-largest producer, has repeatedly said that its oil exports can not be reduced to zero because of high demand levels in the market and has blamed Trump for an oil price rally caused by imposing sanctions on Tehran.

"We have to fulfill all our domestic requirements", Pradhan said, confirming the plan to buy some Iranian crude after USA sanctions kick in.

That's down from at least 2.5 million bpd in April, before President Donald Trump in May withdrew the US from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sanctions.

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Brent crude was up 26 cents, 0.3 percent, at $84.17 a barrel by 0244 GMT. The industry has been worrying that an entirely effective ban on Iranian oil exports would strain supplies.

Pradhan reportedly said Monday that India does not know if it would get a waiver from the U.S.

The Islamic Republic exported 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude in that seven-day period, Refinitiv Eikon data showed. But Iran, OPEC's third-largest producer, has repeatedly announced that its oil exports can not be reduced to zero because of high demand levels in the market.

Pradhan said he had spoken to Saudi Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih two day earlier about the June decision by OPEC and major oil producers to add 1 million bpd to the oil market.

JP Morgan had expected demand growth to moderate this year, but so far demand has been "relatively robust", Scott Darling, regional head of oil and gas research at JP Morgan Chase, told Bloomberg on Monday. The Indian basket represents the average of Oman, Dubai and Brent crude.

The government last week effected a Rs 2.50 per litre cut in prices of petrol and diesel to ease inflationary pressure and boost consumer confidence. It added that the effective reversal of fuel price deregulation would also constrain future private sector investments in the sector.

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