Succumbing to US pressure, India has decided to cut crude oil import from Iran by over 11 per cent this fiscal to 15.5 million tons.
India, which imports 80 per cent of its crude oil and relies on Tehran for 12 per cent of those imports, shipped 18.50 million tons of oil from Iran in 2011-12, minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas R P N Singh said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today.
This decision comes against the backdrop of intense US pressure on India to cut oil import from Iran.
The government had earlier said that it was not possible for India to take any decision to reduce the imports from Iran drastically as that country was important in meeting India's growing energy needs.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week stated that India needed to further reduce imports from Iran to win waiver from US sanctions. The US has already granted waivers to the sanctions for Japan and 10 European countries but has left out China and India, Iran's biggest clients.
India has not publicly said it was aiming to cut back oil imports from Iran but has unofficially asked its top imports to prune shipments from Tehran.
"Total crude oil imported from Iran by Indian companies during the period 2010-11 and 2011-12 is 18.50 million tons and 17.44 million tons respectively. The target fixed for import of crude oil from Iran for the year 2012-13 is approximately 15.5 million tons," Singh said.
He said the quantum of crude oil imported by Indian refineries from various sources is decided by them on the basis of technical, commercial and other considerations.
"In order to reduce its dependence on any particular region of the world, India has been consciously trying to diversify its sources of crude oil imports to strengthen the country's energy security," he said.
India currently imports crude oil from over 30 countries.