Greece Clears Part of Oil Debt, India to Settle Soon

Greece Clears Part of Oil Debt, India to Settle SoonGreece Clears Part of Oil Debt, India to Settle Soon

Greece’s biggest oil refiner Hellenic Petroleum paid €100 million to Iran’s NIOC to settle old debts, while India is set to clear its multibillion dollar debt in the near future.

“The group paid ... the first installment of €100 million, as part of an agreement to settle old debts,” Efstathios Tsotsoros, Hellenic Petroleum’s chairman, told shareholders at the annual meeting, Reuters reported.

A senior Iranian economy official also said this week that Indian oil refiners will clear around €6 billion ($6.7 billion) of outstanding debt to Iran through Turkey’s Halkbank soon.    

India is one of the biggest buyers of Iranian crude and built up a payments backlog when Iran was under western sanctions, with its refiners owing about $6.5 billion to Iran. They cleared around $770 million in euros through Halkbank to the National Iranian Oil Company in May.

“As per the instructions of the Central Bank of Iran, the local banks in India will transfer the money to Halkbank,” Sadeq Akbari, Iran’s general director for foreign economic relations, told reporters at a conference in Istanbul.

Asked when the remaining funds would be cleared, he said “in a short period of time” but declined to comment further.

The refiners had been holding back some payments to Iran after a channel through Halkbank was closed in 2013, although payment of some of the funds was allowed after an initial temporary deal to lift sanctions.

Iran wants to recover the funds owed by India and other buyers of its oil in euros to reduce its dependence on the US dollar, a source at the NIOC told Reuters in February.

Europe is one of Iran’s biggest trading partners, increasing Iranian demand for the European currency.

 India’s Iran Oil Imports

India’s oil imports from Iran fell 3.5% in May from the previous month as Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd cut purchases because of the shutdown of some units at its plant.

Indian refiners took about 379,200 barrels per day of Iranian oil in May, down 13,700 bpd from the 392,900 bpd imported in April, according to preliminary tanker arrival data from trade sources and ship-tracking services on the Thomson Reuters terminal.

May shipments were 3% higher than the 368,000 bpd taken in during the same time a year ago, the data showed.

While dipping last month, India’s oil imports from Iran are expected to surge in the coming months when refiners Hindustan Petroleum Corp and Bharat Petroleum Corp begin lifting Iranian oil.

The nation’s state-owned and private refiners together are expected to buy at least 400,000 bpd in the year that began April 1, a seven-year high, industry sources said early last month.