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Iran says oil payment row with India resolved

After a successful test payment in euros through Turkey's Halkbank, Indian refiners are expected to clear over $5 billion of debts built up with Iran during a lengthy U.S.-inspired payment impasse.


July 31, 2011 3:57 by

Iran’s oil payments row with India has been resolved before any interruption in crude exports to its second-biggest customer, the Iranian Oil Ministry’s website SHANA said on Sunday.

After a successful test payment in euros through Turkey’s Halkbank, Indian refiners are expected to clear over $5 billion of debts built up with Iran during a lengthy U.S.-inspired payment impasse.

“After intensive talks between India and Iran, both sides agreed to clear the debt promptly,” Ahmad Ghalebani, head of the National Iranian Oil Co. (NIOC), told SHANA.

“In the coming days part of India’s oil debt will be cleared and the rest will be gradually settled.”

There is no ban under U.S. or UN sanctions aimed at Iran’s disputed nuclear programme on buying Iranian crude, but they have hindered international bank payments to Tehran.

India and Iran have been looking for ways for New Delhi to pay for some 400,000 barrels per day of Iranian crude, or 12 percent of India’s oil demand, since the Reserve Bank of India halted a clearing mechanism under U.S. pressure last December.

Executives at Indian refineries said in late July they had still not received any crude oil supply notices for August after Iran told them it would stop shipments over the ballooning debt.

Rival top exporter Saudi Arabia has agreed to send millions of extra barrels next month to fill the expected hole in Indian refiners’ supply and an industry source said their orders had not been cancelled by Sunday afternoon.

But Mohsen Ghamsari, head of international affairs at state-run NIOC, told SHANA there had been no cuts in Iranian crude exports to India and no plans to make any.

“With the start of the international banks working hours on Monday, the amounts deposited by Indians in the designated accounts will be known,” Ghamsari was quoted as saying by SHANA.

An Iranian official who spoke on condition of anonymity told Reuters India would pay mainly in euros but also use other currencies to settle its oil debt to the Islamic state.

“Both sides are determined to resolve the problems through different methods,” the official told Reuters.

“Different currencies will be used by India to pay its debt to Iran but the main part of the payment will be in euro.”

(Additional reporting by Reem Shamseddine; Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Alex Richardson and Daniel Fineren)


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