NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India hopes the U.S. will allow its allies to continue to buy some Iranian oil instead of halting the purchases altogether from May, a source familiar with U.S.-India talks said on Monday.
The United States is expected to announce on Monday that buyers of Iranian oil need to end imports soon or face sanctions, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters, triggering a 3 percent jump in crude prices to their highest for 2019 so far.
“They (the U.S. administration) have to take care of their allies, strategic partners. Under sanctions from the beginning, there was talk of a gradual reduction and not going to zero on one stroke,” said the source, who did not wish to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.
India, Iran’s biggest oil client after China, has almost halved its Iran oil purchase since November. That was when Washington granted significant reduction exceptions (SREs) from sanctions to countries, including India.
“Under SREs we hope they will give us relaxation and allow us to buy some Iranian oil,” the source added.
Indian refiners have not yet placed orders to lift Iranian oil in May, pending clarity on whether Washington will extend the sanctions waiver.
Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Edited by Martin Howell