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Indian Oil plans to buy North American sour crude for the first time

SINGAPORE/NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India’s top refiner has issued its first tender to buy high-sulphur, or sour, crude from North America as it seeks to diversify imports, three trading sources said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past a logo of Indian Oil outside a fuel station in New Delhi, India, August 29, 2016. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/File photo

The purchase comes after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States last week when President Donald Trump said the U.S looked forward to exporting more energy products to the world’s third-biggest oil buyer.

It is part of Trump’s policy to assert power globally by boosting natural gas, coal and petroleum exports. He said last week the “golden era” of the U.S. energy business was now underway.

State-owned Indian Oil Corp has issued a tender to buy up to 2 million barrels of sour crude from North America and Canada to meet its growing demand, the sources said.

IOC is ramping up output at its new 300,000 barrels per day Paradip refinery on India’s east coast and has stepped up sour crude purchases this year.

India joins China and Japan in casting their nets further to North America to source for competitively priced sour crude after heavy oil production in the Middle East and Latin America fell on OPEC-led output cuts and lack of investments.

IOC is seeking to buy the crude grades Mars, Southern Green Canyon and Thunderhorse from the U.S. and Western Canadian Select from Canada in the tender, the sources said.

Sellers have the option of delivering the crude to Paradip port on Sept. 25-Oct. 4 or to Vadinar port on the west coast on Oct. 1-10, they said.

The first part of the tender will close on Tuesday and the second part on Wednesday. The tender will be valid until Thursday.

IOC’s crude oil imports are dominated by grades from the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa. It also occasionally buys oil from Latin America, although in small quantities.

To date, the refiner has bought only two cargoes of light sweet oil from Canada.

Reporting by Florence Tan and Nidhi Verma; Editing by Manolo Serapio Jr.