(Repeats earlier story with no change in text)
By Nidhi Verma
NEW DELHI, Dec 16 (Reuters) - India has asked Iran to
provide financial guarantees before Delhi continues to allow
vessels with Iranian insurance cover to enter Indian waters, the
latest sign of difficulties Iran is facing in exporting oil.
Iran and world powers reached a breakthrough agreement last
month over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme that allowed the
Middle Eastern nation to continue oil shipments at current
levels of about 1 million barrels per day (bpd).
India's latest request, however, shows the struggle OPEC
member Iran still faces in maintaining steady oil shipments.
International sanctions on Iran have made it difficult to
insure refineries and ships involved in trade with Iran and
forced India to settle 45 percent of oil payments in rupees
through state-owned UCO Bank while refiners are
withholding the remainder.
India is the second-biggest market for Iranian oil after
China and India and Iran last week held discussions on ways to
settle oil trade in hard currencies like dollars and euros. But
no mechanism has been finalised yet.
In September India granted a three-month extension to
Iranian underwriters Kish P&I and Moallem Insurance Co for
insuring oil tankers and ships calling at Indian ports after
Tehran provided a $1 billion sovereign backing.
India has sought financial security in the form of bank
guarantees from Iran as sanctions by the United Nations, the
United States and the European Union have reduced acceptability
of the Iranian rial, according to a letter seen by Reuters.
India's Deputy Nautical Advisor, Deepak Kapoor, sent the
letter to Iran's Economic Affairs and Finance Ministry on Dec.
10 ahead of a renewal of approval to the Iranian underwriters on
India imported 47 percent less oil from Tehran in October
from a year ago, helping New Delhi get a six-month waiver from
the U.S. sanctions in December.
At the end of November Indian refiners owed about $2.2
billion for partial payments to Iran, while about $3 billion
worth of rupees paid by refiners is lying in Tehran's account
with UCO Bank.
India has asked Iran to provide a bank guarantee for 23
billion rupees ($369.98 million) from its account with UCO Bank
as "a precautionary measure to cover any potential claims that
may arise due to maritime incident in Indian waters".
India imports oil from Iran in Iranian vessels, while Indian
exports to Iran of non-oil commodities and industrial goods use
the vessels of Iran's Hafiz Darya Shipping Lines (HDS) and
Safiran Payam Darya Shipping Lines (SAPID).
An early submission of a bank guarantee would enable India's
shipping ministry to consider further extension of conditional
authorisation to Moallem Insurance Co and Kish P&I Club beyond
Dec. 27 and promote bilateral trade, the letter said.
Deepak Kapoor and the head of India's shipping regulator,
Gautam Chatterjee, did not respond to Reuters' calls for
EU sanctions against Iran in place since mid-2012 bar
members of Europe's International Group of Protection and
Indemnity (P&I) Clubs - who include most insurers that cover the
tanker market - from insuring Iranian oil and other shipments,
leading to the emergence of untested insurance providers.
($1 = 62.1650 Indian rupees)
(Editing by Susan Fenton)