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    Mauritius seeks clarity from ONGC subsidiary MRPL on US sanctions

    Synopsis

    Mauritius has asked Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals to produce an undertaking that its shipments will not be affected by the US sanctions on Iran.

    NEW DELHI: Mauritius has asked Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals to produce an undertaking that its shipments will not be affected by the US sanctions on Iran, a move that may hit petroleum exports to the island nation.

    MRPL, a subsidiary of state-owned ONGC, is in a pact with Mauritius' state trading corporation to meet the nation's petroleum requirements. An official told ET that MRPL has said that it cannot yet produce such an undertaking, but has assured Mauritius that it has reduced its crude imports from Iran.

    "We are in talks with the Mauritius government on the demand made by the country's state trading corporation, which has an oil purchase agreement with MRPL. We are hoping that it would not insist on a US exemption and continue to import as per the contract," the official said.

    The issue was discussed during Mauritius' Foreign and International Trade Minister Arvin Boolell's recent visit to India.

    The US and the EU have imposed economic sanctions on Iran to force it to abandon its nuclear programme. The West has also threatened action against banks that continue to do business with the Gulf nation.

    Although the US exempted India from sanctions last month after it significantly reduced oil imports from Iran, it did not given exemptions to specific companies. New Delhi, which officially does not recognise the sanctions imposed by the West, does not want to seek individual exemptions from the US.

    In 2010-11, India shipped refined petroleum worth about $600 million to Mauritius, against total exports worth $854 million to the country.

    While it is unclear whether Mauritius will stop buying petroleum from MRPL if it cannot produce an exemption certificate, the official said that New Delhi would try and ensure that Mauritius does not take such a step.

    In July 2007, MRPL entered into a three-year agreement with the STC of Mauritius for supply of petroleum products.

    The pact was renewed for another three years in 2010.

    Indian refiners, including MRPL, are switching over to other suppliers of oil and cutting down on their purchases from Iran. In June this year, India reduced its oil imports from Iran by 18.2% to 3,46,600 barrels per day (bpd).
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