New Delhi expects the new US administration to stop blocking the exports of Iranian crude oil, according to India’s oil minister, Dharmendra Pradhan, who hopes to diversify his country’s energy purchases.

“As a buyer, I would like to have more buying places. I should have more destinations to go for purchasing,” Pradhan told India’s Economic Times in response to a question about the potential restart of oil imports from Iran and Venezuela under Joe Biden’s presidency.

India, the world’s third-largest energy consumer, halted crude purchases from the Islamic Republic in May 2019, after US temporary waivers allowing the country to bypass earlier-introduced sanctions expired. The White House re-imposed sanctions on Iran’s energy, shipbuilding and banking sectors in late 2018 in order to deprive Tehran of its main sources of revenue.

Iran was the second-biggest supplier of crude to India after Saudi Arabia until its Western allies put an economic blockade on the country following pressure from Washington. Venezuela was India’s fourth-biggest oil supplier before New Delhi had to dramatically decrease crude imports from there because of US restrictions. In 2019, Washington imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA, stripping the country of its key source of cash.

Pradhan hopes the Biden administration will ease sanctions on Iran and Venezuela since India is 85 percent dependent on oil imports to meet its domestic market needs. Two-thirds of its current imports come from the Middle East where Iraq and Saudi Arabia are its major suppliers.

“Gone are days of monopoly. Oil producers have to recognize the aspirations of consumers. It is a consumer-driven market today. India needs a reasonable and responsible price,” he said, stressing that India consumes just six percent of the world’s primary energy and its per capita consumption is one-third of the global average.

India’s energy consumption is expected to increase by three percent per year through 2040, while its share of total global primary energy demand is projected to double to about 11 percent by 2040, driven by strong economic development.

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