Saudi offers more oil to India
With India under pressure from the US and other nations to cut its oil imports from Iran, which is being targeted with sanctions to prevent it from weaponizing its nuclear programme, Saudi Arabia has stepped forward to meet the shortfall. King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud told defence minister A K Antony, during his visit to Riyadh, that Saudi Arabia is ready to “offer all assistance, including additional supply of crude oil, should India require it”. This is significant because India is caught in a bind since it cannot afford to suddenly cut back energy imports from Iran, which, as its second largest supplier (after Saudi Arabia), meets 12% of its total oil requirements. Tightening Western sanctions have made it hard for India to pay for the oil its sources from Iran, especially since Washington has declared it will ban from the US market all financial institutions that transact petroleum business with Tehran’s Central Bank from March 1.