China's Iran Oil Imports Up

China's Iran Oil Imports Up  China's Iran Oil Imports Up

China's crude imports from Iran rose 15 percent in March from a year ago to a 10-month high, although still below the purchases expected from the Iran's largest oil client.

China's imports last month from Iran were 2.71 million tons, or 638,600 barrels per day (bpd), up 20 percent from February on a daily basis and the highest since May of last year, Reuters reported citing official customs data as showing on Wednesday.

China's March imports from Iran were well above the 2014 average of roughly 550,000 bpd, which was about the same as seen before the United States and the European Union toughened sanctions over Iran's disputed nuclear programme in early 2012.

Thomson Reuters Oil Research & Forecasts had put China's imports from Iran in March at 687,600 bpd. The group also expects volumes from Iran to fall in April to just 483,000 bpd, although some of the shipments expected to arrive in March could have spilled over into this month. In the first quarter of 2015, China's oil imports from Iran fell almost 2 percent compared to the same period last year.

Earlier this month, Iran and six world powers signed a framework nuclear agreement that could see sanctions on Tehran eventually lifted if a more permanent pact is finalized by a June deadline. Oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, and an official delegation visited China just days after the agreement was signed, seeking to mend fences with Chinese oil firms to get oil and gas development projects going and discuss oil sales.

Before the framework nuclear agreement was signed in early April, Chinese state trader Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp renewed a one-year supply contract for condensate from Iran, increasing the volume by 50 percent. The deal for the National Iranian Oil Company to ship 100,000 bpd of condensate to China from August will raise volumes contracted with Tehran to above 600,000 bpd.