NEW DELHI, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Indian refiner MRPL
is struggling to take delivery of 1 million barrel cargoes of
crude oil after failing to start operation of a new offshore
The Indian refiner in mid-January had to lighten the load of
its first spot vessel carrying 1 million barrels by using a
smaller vessel at another port, two sources privy to the latest
development said on Monday.
The delays are making it difficult for MRPL, Iran's biggest
Indian customer with an annual contract for 100,000 barrels per
day (bpd), to receive Iranian crude. Western sanctions have
limited the number of small Iranian tankers.
MRPL had hoped a new single point mooring (SPM) would start
operating at the Mangalore Port by May 2012, but the SPM has
faced repeated delays. The latest delay involved a leak in a
test run earlier this month. ]
"There are uncertainties over commissioning of SPM. For how
long can MRPL afford to pay demurrage charges?" one of the
MRPL received a suezmax, the Cape Bastia, from trader
Trafigura containing 1 million barrels of Equatorial Guinea's
Zafiro crude on Jan. 13, hoping the SPM would be commissioned by
The sources said MRPL took the Cape Bastia to Mumbai port
over the weekend and transferred about 366,000 barrels to a
smaller vessel, a process known as lighterage. The two ships are
currently due for unloading at Mangalore port, they said.
MRPL will use lighterage for unloading a second 1 million
barrel spot cargo, which was bought from Glencore, they
"There is a serious problem with the pipeline at SPM," the
first source said.
Insurance problems triggered by sanctions against Iran have
added to the delays in the commercial start-up of the SPM.
Indian insurers, which do not fall directly under the
sanctions but depend on Western reinsurers to hedge their risk,
will give full cover for the SPM only if MRPL gives an
undertaking it will not use the facility for Iranian crude.
(Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Editing by Jo Winterbottom and Jane