India's West Africa oil imports grow on Iran sanctions-traders

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 15, 2013 13:20 hrs

LONDON, March 15 (Reuters) - Nigeria and Angola will export more crude to India in April where refiners are further cutting purchases from Iran due to concerns about shipping insurance, according to traders.

Indian refiners have bought around 50 percent more crude from West Africa for April loading than in February, shipping lists from traders show.

"It's to do with insurance cover and making sure they are not exposed to risk," a trader said.

Iran's crude oil exports in March may plunge by a quarter from a month earlier to the lowest since tight Western sanctions came into effect in 2012.

Tight Western sanctions imposed over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme have cut oil exports by more than half over the past year, resulting in a plunge in the rial currency. The country passed a three-month stop-gap budget at the weekend.

Shipping lists seen by traders point to Indian imports of West African crude for April at around 15 million barrels compared to 12 million barrels in March and 10 million in February, according to Reuters data.

This is also above the 13 million barrels seen in February 2012.

The demand for Nigerian cargoes will help support differentials, which have been under pressure from competition from North Sea, Algerian, Libyan and Middle Eastern grades of crude oil.

However, traders said the support may be short-lived.

"I guess there may be some temporary bigger demand for West African crude from India as they sort themselves out with Middle East Gulf producers, but it is hard to say whether this will continue, especially if India's focus for Iranian substitutes is the Gulf," one trader said. (Reporting by Simon Falush; editing by James Jukwey)

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