(Adds quotes, details)
By Krittivas Mukherjee and Ratnajyoti Dutta
NEW DELHI, March 14 Shipping Corp of India
, the country's largest shipping company, is in talks
with local insurance firms seeking cover for cargoes and vessels
for imports from Iran, its chairman S. Hajara said on Wednesday,
as fresh western sanctions loom.
"We haven't heard from the government. We are talking to PSU
(state-run) insurance companies. They (talks) are positive
discussions," Hajara told Reuters on the sidelines of a coal
The European Union announced new sanctions in January which
will mean a total ban on European insurers indemnifying ships
that carry Iranian crude and oil products -- either on term or
spot basis -- from July.
But Shipping Corp was forced to cancel an Iranian crude oil
shipment last month because its European insurers refused to
cover the spot deal, struck after Jan. 23 when the EU announced
the plan for sanctions on the OPEC member.
Europe and the United States are enforcing tougher economic
sanctions in the hope of isolating Iran and forcing it to halt
its nuclear programme, which the West fears will be used to
develop nuclear weapons.
Iran, the biggest producer in OPEC after Saudi Arabia and
the world's fifth largest oil exporter, says its nuclear
programme is purely for peaceful purposes.
Iran is India's second-biggest supplier of oil after Saudi
Arabia, with some $11 billion a year in shipments meeting about
12 percent of India's crude import needs.
Indian shipping firms will find it difficult to obtain
replacement insurance coverage to continue importing Iranian
crude oil after the new European Union sanctions come into
effect, sources have said.
India is weighing up options including extending sovereign
guarantees for its shipping lines and buying Iran oil on a
delivered basis, former Shipping Secretary K Mohandas said last
"July is a long time away, we hope something will happen
before that," Hajara said, adding his firm was in talks with the
the EU P&I club for ways to continue insurance for Iran cover.
He said Shipping Corp may look at getting insurance coverage
from P&I clubs which are not affected by the sanctions. China,
Hong Kong and Japan all have insurance arrangements for trade
(Reporting by Krittivas Mukherjee and Ratnajyoti Dutta; Writing
by Nidhi Verma; Editing by Jo Winterbottom)