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HPCL to buy Iranian oil in Jan after six-month gap: sources

FILE PHOTO: A man cleans an oil tanker parked outside a Hindustan Petroleum fuel depot in Mumbai, India, October 6, 2017. REUTERS/ Danish Siddiqui

By Nidhi Verma

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - State-run Indian oil refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corp (HPCL.NS) will buy Iranian crude in January after a gap of six months, with the nation's overall purchases from Tehran at 9 million barrels in the month, four industry sources said.

The United States in early November granted India a six-month waiver from sanctions against Iran's oil exports.

Under the agreement, New Delhi must restrict its Iran oil purchases to 1.25 million tonnes, or 9 million barrels.

As part of the deal, HPCL will lift 1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil in January, one source with knowledge of the matter said, asking not to be named due to the political sensitivity of Iran sanctions.

It was unclear whether HPCL would continue to buy Iranian oil on a regular basis during the waiver period.

HPCL had halted Iranian oil purchases in July after its insurance company refused to provide coverage for the crude because of U.S. sanctions, although its chairman said last month that HPCL may resume buying Iranian oil under sanctions waivers.

Indian Oil Corp (IOC.NS), the country's top refiner, will lift 5 million barrels of Iranian oil in January compared to 6 million this month, while Mangalore Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL.NS) will buy 3 million barrels, another source said, also asking not to be identified.

An IOC official had previously said his firm would lift 180,000 bpd - the full volume contracted under an annual deal with Iran for this fiscal year ending March 31, 2019.

Some of India's oil imports from Iran will be paid for in rupee under a payment mechanism with Indian state-owned UCO Bank (UCBK.NS)

HPCL, IOC and MRPL did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Editing by Joseph Radford and Henning Gloystein)