NEW DELHI - Iran is offering free delivery of crude to major client India, industry sources said, signalling that tough Western sanctions which have slashed its exports in half are driving Tehran to increasingly desperate measures to keep oil flowing.
The United States has yet to ease the pressure on Asian buyers to continue reducing purchases from the OPEC member, even though Iran and world powers began two days of talks on Thursday hoping to reach a "first step" towards ending the decade-old standoff over Tehran's disputed nuclear program.
The drop in exports is costing Iran billions of dollars in lost revenue every month. Tehran is also unable to repatriate most of the money earned from oil it does manage to sell, as the sanctions have cut off bank transfer facilities, crippling its economy by choking off its biggest revenue stream.
Despite the near halt of petrodollar payments, Iran is resorting to measures such as offering deep discounts on oil and now free delivery to India, according to sources who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.