* India owed Iran $4.6 bln for oil imports as of May 31
* Has repaid $1.65 bln in last three payments
* HMEL declines to clear dues, raising share of other
By Nidhi Verma
NEW DELHI, July 24 India paid a third and final
instalment of $550 million to Iran on Thursday, three industry
sources said, part of the frozen funds released to Tehran in the
interim deal with world powers.
Under a pact reached in November, Iran won access to $4.2
billion in oil revenues held by its buyers, to be paid out in
eight money transfers through July. The payments were linked to
Iran carrying continuous reduction in its nuclear activities.
Iran and six world powers have now agreed to extend the
November deal another four months, after failing to reach a
final agreement before a July 20 deadline. The extension allows
Tehran access to another $2.8 billion in frozen oil monies.
Five Indian refiners - Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals
Ltd, Essar Oil, Indian Oil Corp,
Hindustan Petroleum Corp and HPCL-Mittal Energy Ltd
(HMEL) - have partly paid money owed for crude imports in the
previous two instalments.
Of the total of about $4.6 billion the refiners owe Iran as
of May 31, they have paid $1.65 billion by taking the last three
of the eight payment slots scheduled in the November deal.
In the latest round of payments, HMEL, part owned by steel
tycoon L. N. Mittal, did not make its payment due to exchange
rate fluctuations, the sources said. That lead to a higher
payout by the other four.
"HMEL shall not be participating in this payment process
whereby exchange losses are being imposed upon HMEL contrary to
commercial understanding," the company said to the oil ministry
earlier this month in a letter seen by Reuters.
HMEL as a policy does not comment on its crude sourcing or
matters associated with it, a spokeswoman for the company said,
replying to an email seeking comments.
Essar Oil cleared dues of $240 million, followed by $236
million by MRPL, $67 million by IOC and $7 million by HPCL,
which also has a stake in HMEL, the sources said.
HMEL was due to pay money owed for 4 million barrels of oil
imported from Iran in 2012. Since then, however, the Indian
rupee has weakened, and the fluctuation would increase its cost
by about 10 percent, the company said in the letter.
India, which imports a total of 4 million barrels per day of
oil, has been steadily reducing its dependence on Iran. Over the
last five years to the fiscal year ended this past March 31,
Iran's share of India's crude imports has fallen by two-thirds
to 5.8 percent.
However, in the January-June period for this year its crude
imports from Iran rose by a third compared to a year ago, data
from trade sources showed.
China and India both started raising their oil imports from
Iran after the interim deal was reach in November.
(Editing by Manash Goswami and Tom Hogue)