* Imports from Iran to miss target for year to March 31
* Insurance ban squeezes supply of aframax vessels MRPL
* Azerbaijan, Saudi supplies replace Iran crude
(Adds details, background)
By Nidhi Verma
NEW DELHI, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Iran's biggest oil buyer in
India, refiner MRPL, said on Thursday it expected to
import 39 percent less in the year to March 31 as international
sanctions had hurt the availability of vessels to carry Iranian
"This fiscal year it will be about 3.8 million tonnes from
Iran," MRPL Managing Director P.P. Upadhya told reporters.
That amount, some 76,000 barrels per day (bpd), was short of
a target of 100,000 bpd, which Upadhya said was due largely to
It was also down from imports of 124,000 bpd in 2011/12,
said Vishnu Agrawal, MRPL's director of finance.
Sanctions on Tehran were prompted by its nuclear program,
which Iran insists is for peaceful purposes while the United
Nations Security Council is concerned that its ultimate goal is
to produce an atomic bomb.
Iran's major Asian clients - China, India, Japan and South
Korea - have all cut imports heavily to secure a waiver from the
sanctions and continued access to the U.S. financial system.
But an EU ban on insuring vessels carrying Iranian oil has
nevertheless disrupted the flow to Asian buyers, as the maritime
insurance industry is mostly based in Europe, while Iran does
not have enough of the smaller aframax vessels which MRPL
MRPL was hoping to begin using its Single Point Mooring
(SPM) to handle fully loaded cargoes bigger than aframaxes last
May but that has been delayed until the end of February.
Upadhya said MRPL had replaced Iranian crude through a
short-term deal with Azerbaijan, spot purchases and drawing more
from term contractors such as ADNOC and Saudi Arabia.
(Writing by Ratnajyoti Dutta; editing by Jo Winterbottom and