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UPDATE 1-India's MRPL seeks high sulphur crude in tender
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NEW DELHI Aug 20 (Reuters) - India's Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL) has issued a rare tender to import high sulphur crude for loading in October, a document showed on Monday, a purchase that may be motivated by a need to replace Iranian oil imports.
Indian refiners have struggled to find insurance and shipping for Iranian oil imports since the European Union brought in sanctions banning most of the world's major insurance firms from covering Iranian oil shipments.
The refiner was seeking a 600,000 barrel cargo for loading in early October to India's west coast, the document showed.
MRPL, Iran's biggest Indian oil client, in July loaded only one cargo of 660,000 barrels compared with five such parcels planned for lifting. In August, so far the company has managed to lift only two cargoes. It normally takes between four and six aframax cargoes from Iran in a month.
MRPL rarely tenders for high sulphur crude since it typically imports Iranian barrels according to the terms of an annual term contract with the OPEC member.
The company has also issued another tender seeking 600,000 barrels of low sulphur crude.
MRPL, a subsidiary of explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp , also issued another tender for a 600,000 barrels size cargo for loading during October 1-15, a document showed.
Both tenders will close on Aug, 23, with offers to remain valid until Aug. 27. MRPL is Iran's biggest Indian customer, importing about 100,000 barrels per day of high sulphur Iranian grades.
India is selectively allowing refiners to import oil using Iran's ships and insurance cover. But Iran does not have enough aframaxes to suit MRPL's needs and Indian shippers feel insurance cover provided by local insurance firms is inadequate.
Separately, the company bought two 600,000-650,000 barrel cargoes of Gabon's Rabi Blend crude from Shell for lifting in September and October.
The oil major sold the September cargo at a discount of about $1.60 a barrel to dated Brent while October cargo has been sold at a discount of 60-80 cents a barrel, trade sources said. Both cargoes are sold on Free on Board basis. (Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Additional reporting and writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Anthony Barker and Alison Birrane)
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