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Crude imports unlikely to be hit

Our Bureau

NEW DELHI, Sept. 6

THE US military strikes in Iraq are unlikely to affect India's crude imports from the Persian Gulf in the short term as the oil refining companies have been loading crude tankers with extra oil as per the directions from the Government in the last two to three weeks.

"In view of the stand-off between the US and Iraq, the Government had asked IOC, HPCL and BPCL to bring extra oil from the Persian Gulf by asking the ship-owners to load on the higher side and maximise the liftings", a senior official in the Shipping Ministry said.

Stating that the situation was normal, the official said that a crisis would loom only if the military strikes last for a few months. "The whole area will then be dangerous. There will be blockades and escalations if the strikes continue for long", he said.

According to reports reaching here, oil traders are sailing their crude tankers from the Persian Gulf with full-load.

India buys most of its crude requirements from the Persian Gulf and the three national refineries have been asked to bring in more oil in the past three weeks.

"The Government had directed the oil refiners to fill up the tanks and have floating storage which have been complied with", the official said.

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