India may buy Venezuelan oil if it’s cheap, minister says

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian refiners can process Venezuelan oil and the nation may buy it provided that it is available cheaply, India’s oil minister said on Wednesday, days after the U.S. temporarily lifted sanctions on OPEC member Venezuela’s oil sector.

India, the world’s third biggest oil importer and consumer, ships over 80% of its oil needs from overseas and wants to cut its crude import bill.

“It is always good when more supplies come to market,” Oil Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said at an industry event, speaking about Venezuelan oil, and added: “We will buy from wherever we can get cheaper oil.”

Venezuela has one of the largest oil reserves and production from it at a large scale will have a dampening effect on global oil prices, Puri said.

The South American country had been under crushing sanctions since 2019. These were broadly lifted by the U.S. two weeks ago in response to a deal reached between the Venezuelan government and opposition parties for the 2024 election.

A new general licence issued by the U.S. Treasury Department authorises Venezuela to produce and export oil to its chosen markets for the next six months without limitation.

Indian refiners Indian Oil Corp and Reliance Industries have bought Venezuelan oil in the past, Puri said.

(Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Writing by Shivam Patel, editing by David Evans)