By Nidhi Verma
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian state refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corp said on Friday it expects global oil prices to ease and stay below $70 per barrel if the United States lifts sanctions against Iran.
India, the world's third largest oil consumer and importer, halted oil imports from Tehran in 2019 as a temporary waiver granted to some countries expired. Former U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions.
Iran and world powers have been in talks since April onreviving the 2015 deal and the European Union official leadingthe discussions said on Wednesday he was confident an agreement would be reached.
"There had been up and down movement (in oil prices) in the last four days between $70 and $65 depending on the discussions which are happening related to Iran and any positive movement on that should ease the crude prices on the lower side," HPCL chairman M. K Surana told an analyst call.
"We do not see mach upside on crude prices beyond $70 (a barrel) some momentary spikes may be there," he said, adding any lack of development on Iran has already been factored in the prices.
Oil prices rose on Friday after three days of losses, but were on track for a weekly fall as investors braced for the return of Iranian crude supplies after officials said Iran and world powers made progress in the nuclear talks.
Brent crude futures were up 80 cents, or 1.2%, at $65.91 a barrel by 1017 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate was at $62.82 a barrel, 88 cents higher, or 1.4%. [O/R]
Indian refiners are planning to replace some of their spot purchases with Iranian oil in the second half of this year as the U.S. and Iran inch closer to a deal.
Surana also said that refining margins are expected improve as fuel demand in Europe, the United States and some Asian economy is rebounding.
He, however, hoped that Indian fuel demand, hit by a deadly second wave of coronavirus and lockdowns in some states, would recover from June as the number of infections in the country have started to reduce.
(Reporting by Nidhi Verma; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)