India Weighs Investing Up to $20 Billion in Iran Energy Industry

  • India may also increase imports of Iran crude: Oil Minister
  • U.S. rules mean India to pay $6 billion Iran oil debt in euros

India may invest as much as $20 billion in Iran’s energy industry and ports and boost imports of crude from the Persian Gulf nation if it gets favorable terms, India’s Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said in an interview.

Indian companies are evaluating opportunities to explore for oil and natural gas, build petrochemical plants and gas-processing facilities and expand ports including the new industrial hub of Chabahar, Pradhan said during a visit to Tehran. The two countries agreed to plan for development of Iran’s Farzad-B gas field, with the aim of deciding whether to award a contract to an Indian group by October, according to a copy of the memorandum signed by the ministers and posted on Pradhan’s Twitter account.

“We were importing a good amount of oil from Iran in the challenging days, so we will continue to import that amount,” Pradhan said Saturday. “That’s a business level discussion regarding my companies -- if they will be getting good terms they may increase their import.” India is buying about 350,000 barrels of Iranian crude a day, Iran’s oil minister, Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, said after meeting Pradhan, according to the ministry’s news service Shana.

Paying Euros

Iran is seeking foreign investment to revive its oil, gas and petrochemical industries since international sanctions on its economy were removed in January. India was one of six buyers authorized to purchase Iranian oil under U.S. restrictions. Buyers still owe Iran oil payments because the curbs hampered their ability to transfer funds, and U.S. rules continue to bar them using dollars to pay for Iranian oil.

India will use euros to pay $6 billion in oil payments it owes Iran, Pradhan said.

Indian firms are targeting the development of Chabahar on Iran’s Gulf of Oman coast outside the Strait of Hormuz, he said. About a fifth of the oil consumed worldwide each day passes through the Strait, a shipping choke point that separates the Persian Gulf from the Gulf of Oman and Indian Ocean. Pradhan gave no target dates for potential investment in Iran by Indian companies.

Saudi Arabia is interested in investing in refineries that India is expanding, Pradhan said, referring to talks the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held during a visit this month to Saudi Arabia. Refineries planned by Hindustan Petroleum Corp. in Rajasthan and a new facility planned by India’s state-run oil processors were among the investment opportunities that Indian and Saudi officials discussed during that visit, he said.

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