|Ships with Iranian insurance get 6-month extension to call at India’s ports||
India has decided to extend by six months the special permission granted to ships with Iranian insurance to call at the country’s ports, a government official has said.
This will enable New Delhi to continue to receive supplies of oil from Iran, albeit with reduced volume, despite the U.S. sanctions against the West Asian nation.
The six-month extension given to Iranian ships in January expires this Friday and New Delhi’s decision assumes significance, particularly in the context of the trouble in Iraq, the second largest source of crude supply to India now.
Normally, ships without insurance from International Group of P&I Clubs are not allowed to call at Indian ports. This is because in the event of any mishap, there is no guarantee that the claims will be settled by the ship’s owner.
India granted special permission to vessels with Iranian insurance after European insurers imposed a ban on Iranian voyages, following the U.S. and EU sanctions. Indian ships or other flag carriers cannot carry Iranian cargo as international P&I insurers stopped coverage to vessels carrying such cargo in 2012, following the U.S. sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program.
Though, the U.S. has relaxed sanctions against Iran, the Europe-based International Group of P&I Clubs are yet to take a decision on granting coverage to Iranian voyages.
As recommended by the committee constituted by the government, vessels insured by two Iranian P&I Clubs — Kish and QITA — are allowed to enter Indian waters, the official said.
Earlier, India reportedly insisted on Iran providing a financial guarantee before any extension. However, following the request made by Tehran, which was India’s second largest exporter of crude till 2011, New Delhi agreed to grant permission on Iran’s sovereign guarantee.
Since the insurance ban, India has been cutting its purchases of oil from Iran. India’s imports dropped to 11 million tons in the last fiscal year from 18 million tons a couple of years ago.
Essar Oil and the public sector Mangalore Refineries and Petrochemicals Ltd are the major Indian importers of Iranian crude.
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