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Will meet India’s oil needs if US sanctions hit Iran imports: Saudi envoy
India imported 771,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Iran in May, a 35% increase over April.

  Saudi Arabia is ready to meet India’s need for additional oil supplies should the US sanctions on Iran hit energy imports, the Saudi ambassador said on Wednesday.

Iraq and Saudi Arabia are the top two suppliers of energy to India, which imports more than 80% of its oil. The US has said it wants India and other buyers of Iranian crude to reduce imports to “zero” by November 4, when sanctions will kick in against Iran.

“We have been a consistent and reliable supplier of energy to India and other countries. We will always be there to meet any demand of our customers, including India,” Saudi Arabian ambassador Saud bin Mohammed al-Sati told a group of journalists.

“We have always been a strong energy partner for India,” he added, while responding to a question on whether Saudi Arabia would step in to help if the US sanctions led to a drying up of oil supplies from Iran, which became India’s second biggest energy supplier in May.

New Delhi imported 771,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Tehran in May, a 35% increase over April. The increase pushed Saudi Arabia to third place while Iraq retained the top slot.

Al-Sati said he was “not aware” of any request from India for additional oil supplies in view of the impending US sanctions. However, he noted that bilateral ties in a wide range of areas, from investments to security cooperation and cultural and people-to-people contacts, were “excellent and growing”.

“Indians play an important role in Saudi Arabia. One out of every 10 persons in our country is an Indian and this reflects our close friendship,” he added.

Despite being removed from its traditional position as India’s top energy source by Iraq, Saudi Arabia supplied 30.9 metric tonnes of crude in the first 10 months of the current fiscal. Saudi Arabia is also India’s fourth largest trade partner after China, the US and UAE, and bilateral trade during 2016-17 was valued at $25.079 billion, with India’s exports amounting to $5.13 billion.

Saudi Arabia is also home to 3.2 million Indians, the largest expatriate community in the kingdom whose annual remittances are worth about $10 billion.



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