New Delhi: Iran has zipped past the likes of Venezuela and Nigeria to become India's third largest oil supplier as easing western sanctions enabled Indian companies to increase purchases from that country.
Saudi Arabia and Iraq continue to be ahead of Iran, which was sixth biggest supplier of crude oil to India in 2015-16. It has overtaken Venezuela, Nigeria and UAE to become India's third largest supplier in April-December period of 2016-17.
Iran sold 19.8 million tonne crude oil to India in the first nine months of the current fiscal, officials said. This behind Saudi Arabia's 30.3 MT and 29.1 MT sourced from Iraq.
In full 2015-16 fiscal, Iran had supplied 12.7 MT crude oil to India. That year Saudi Arabia had sold 40.4 MT oil to India with Iraq chipping in 26.8 MT. Venezuela supplied 23.6 MT, Nigeria 23.4 MT and UAE 15.7 MT.
Iran was India's second biggest supplier of crude oil after Saudi Arabia till 2010-11 but western sanctions over its suspected nuclear programme relegated it to the 7th spot in subsequent years.
In 2013-14 and 2014-15, India bought 11 million tons and 10.95 million tons respectively from Iran, officials said.
India is 80 percent dependent on imports to meet its oil needs.
Easing of western sanctions a year ago has led to Indian refiners raising their purchase from Iran.
During April-December 2016-17, Venezuela supplied 17.5 MT of oil, UAE 13 MT and Nigeria 12.8 MT.
Kuwait, which was third largest supplier in 2013-14 has steadily slipped, supplying just 7.6 MT in first nine months of 2016-17 fiscal.
Iran in 2008-09 sold 21.81 MT oil to India, which came down marginally to 21.19 MT in the following year. It fell to 18.49 MT in 2010-11 and to 17.44 MT in 2011-12.
After the west imposed sanctions, India brought down the purchases to 13.14 MT in 2012-13 and had limited them in the years thereafter.
Officials said India imported 161.7 MT of crude oil in the April-December period this fiscal, 64.2 percent of which came from the Middle-East region.
India spent USD 50.62 billion on crude oil imports during the first nine months.