Sri Lanka unlikely to get new U.S. waiver for Iran crude-minister

oil        The United States is unlikely to grant another waiver to Sri Lanka to allow it to import Iranian crude, Sri Lanka’s Oil Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa told Reuters on Monday. “They (U.S. officials) met me twice and told in plain language that we can’t buy any Iranian oil, because our quota is over,” Yapa said.

Sri Lanka, which had been heavily dependent on Iran crude, was twice granted waivers since U.S. sanctions came into effect in early 2012. Sri Lanka received its first waiver in June last year after cutting Iran crude imports by 23 percent. New waivers would be based on a gradual reduction of imports.

It was unable to buy any Iran crude parcels in the second half of last year, largely because sanctions imposed on Iran by the European Union made it difficult to secure ships or insurance.

Yapa said U.S. officials told him that Sri Lanka was no longer eligible for a waiver extension because the quota wasn’t used. “Actually, we can’t use it,” Yapa said.An official at U.S. Embassy in Colombo said if Sri Lanka has not imported any Iran oil in the previous six months, it effectively had no more reductions to make.

Officials at state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) have said that the sanctions defeated three attempts by Sri Lanka to buy an Iranian crude cargo in the second half of 2012. Sri Lanka’s only refinery, which has a capacity of 50,000 barrels per day and was designed to use predominantly Iran light crude.

The government has been importing Oman light and Murban crude from Abu Dhabi, but CPC officials have said the yield at the refinery has been 15-20 percent lower than that of Iran light.

Yapa also denied allegations made by Sri Lanka’s main opposition United National Party (UNP) that the government had evaded U.S. sanctions by buying Iran crude in illegal ways including mid-sea ship-to-ship transfer.”We are not a pirate nation to do ship-to-ship transfer. We have documents to prove that for every shipment,” he said. (Reuters)

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