Iranian oil exports to China drop due to sanctions
China’s crude oil imports from Iran fell 31 per cent in November from a year earlier and were down 6.3 per cent on the month, data showed, with traders citing delivery delays by Iranian tankers because of tough Western sanctions.
China, Iran’s top crude oil customer, bought 1.76 million tonnes of Iranian crude in November, equivalent to about 427,720 barrels per day (bpd), versus 456,240 bpd in October, according to data from the General Administration of Customs. China imported 619,610 bpd of Iranian crude in November 2011.
Imports for the first 11 months totalled 19.4 million tonnes, or 422,800 bpd, down 23 per cent from a year earlier, largely because of steep cuts in the first quarter as China and Iran wrangled over contract terms and delivery delays by Iranian tankers because of tough Western sanctions. Asia’s largest refiner, Sinopec, has resumed imports of Iranian condensate from September, traders have said.
Iranian crude volumes received by China have been below contracted levels since September, because the Middle East country’s tanker fleet, the sole transporter of its crude to China, has been struggling to meet delivery schedules.
Iran, hurt by the Western sanctions aimed at halting its nuclear programme, has delayed the loading of some shipments for September, October and November to China, trade sources have told Reuters.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) said this month shipments of Iranian crude fell to multi-year lows of 1.07 mbpd in September but recovered to 1.3 mbpd in November as reduced oil buying from China and India was offset by a rise in purchases from Malaysia, Taiwan and the UAE. Iranian crude exports are expected to turn lower in December and into the New Year, reaching a level closer to 1 mbpd.