COLOMBO - Sri Lanka expects crude imports from Iran to drop by at least 10 percent this year due to a range of inflation-fighting policies that should cool demand, potentially helping it find a way around US sanctions, a government official said on Friday.
The Indian Ocean island nation is facing one of the biggest squeezes from the impending sanctions, despite being a small player in the world crude market, since its sole refinery can only process Iranian crude and a handful of others.
In the last month, Sri Lanka has increased interest rates for the first time since 2007 to avert a looming balance-of-payments crisis, raised state-controlled fuel prices by as much as 37 percent, and stopped defending the rupee currency
"We're quite confident there will be a reduction in the quantity of oil we purchase because of our new policies," the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
"Our own view is that it will reduce by at least 10 percent, and that will satisfy both parties," the official said. He expected the 10 percent reduction would be year-on-year.