Iran overtook Saudi Arabia to become the second biggest oil supplier to Indian state refineries between April and June 2018, Reuters reported.

Tehran’s willingness to offer discounted oil meant that India imported 457,000 barrels per day (b/d) (5.67 million tons) over the three months.

Iraq remained India’s top supplier, shipping 7.27 million tons of oil during the period. Saudi Arabia’s shipments totaled 5.22 million tons, making it the third largest supplier.

Data compiled by Reuters shows that for the same period in 2017, Iran exported 279,000 b/d (3.46 million tons) to India, 40% less than the 2018 export figures.

As well as almost doubling their imports since the start of this fiscal year, the Indian refiners offered almost free shipping and extended credit period on oil sales.

The introduction of US sanctions on Iran’s oil sector in November is placing India and other major buyers of Iranian crude under pressure to reduce imports from the country.

Reuters reported last month that India had asked refiners to prepare for drastic reductions and a possible complete cut of Iranian oil imports.

Overall Indian imports from Iran for June were 16% lower than those for May, possibly indicating the start of a complete cut of Iranian crude in Indian refineries.

“Indian refineries import crude oil from diverse sources including Iran, depending on technical and commercial considerations,” Pradhan stated, without elaborating on the effect of US sanctions on the two countries’ trade relationship.