U.S. dispatching energy czar to New Delhi

May 9, 2012 at 9:55 AM

NEW DELHI, May 9 (UPI) -- A U.S. energy administrator is headed to India to help the country find alternatives to Iranian oil, the visiting U.S. secretary of state said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced, following a three-day visit, that Indian refineries had stopped asking for Iranian crude oil.

Japan and 10 members of the European Union received waivers from U.S. sanctions because they cut back on the amount of Iranian crude oil they've purchased. Clinton said she was encouraged by steps taken by New Delhi so far, but said more was needed.

Clinton told CNN she was sending Carlos Pascual, the U.S. coordinator for international energy affairs, to the region next week to help India find ways to take additional steps.

"Because we know that this is hard for India, just like it's been hard for some of the European countries that were very dependent upon Iranian oil, for Japan," she said. "And we have worked with them and offered suggestions about alternative sources of supply at an affordable cost."

India has struggled to pay for Iranian crude oil since the Reserve Bank of India opted in December 2010 to stop trading in euros and U.S. dollars.

New Delhi relies on imports for as much as 80 percent of its oil needs and counts on Iran as its No. 2 supplier. The government has called for a gradual move away from Iranian crude, however, because of sanctions pressure on Tehran.

Indian officials were courting Qatari delegates on the sidelines of an energy conference in New Delhi last month.

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