The latest official figures show that Iran for the first time ever overtook Saudi Arabia in October to become India’s top crude oil supplier.
Figures released by Reuters show that Asia’s third largest oil consumer imported 789,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian oil in October compared with 697,000 bpd from Saudi Arabia.
Iran’s oil exports to India last month were more than three times higher than those for the same period last year when the sanctions against Iran were still in place.
Saudi Arabia still holds India’s top supply spot, at an average of 830,000 bpd versus Iraq’s 784,000 bpd and Iran’s 456,400 bpd, Reuters added.
Iran used to be India’s second-biggest oil supplier, a position it ceded to Iraq after a series of draconian US-led sanctions were imposed against the country over the past few years.
The sanctions were lifted in January after a nuclear deal that Iran had last summer sealed with the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany – the so-called P5+1 –came into effect.
Based on the deal, Iran agreed to restrict certain aspects of its nuclear energy activities in return for the removal of certain economic sanctions by the P5+1.
A key point in the sanctions removal was a go-ahead for Iran to increase its oil exports beyond the sanctioned level of around 1 million barrels per day (mb/d).
The reported surge in Iran’s oil exports to India may be a fresh sign that the country is regaining the share of the global oil market that it had lost as a result of multiple years of sanctions.
Last week, Iran announced that its oil production in October had reached 3.92 mb/d – the highest level after the removal of the sanctions. The figure showed an increase of 210,000 bpd month-on-month.