China's Iran Crude Imports Up

China's Iran Crude Imports UpChina's Iran Crude Imports Up

China's November Iranian crude oil imports jumped by almost half from a 14-month low in October, official customs data showed on Monday.

Iran's top oil client, China imported 2.02 million tons of Iranian oil last month, or 491,100 barrels per day, up 45.2% from the month before, but down 5.1% on an annual basis, according to data from the China's General Administration of Customs, Reuters reported.

That was higher than an estimate of 444,100 bpd from Thomson Reuters Oil Research & Forecasts for China's Iranian crude imports in November. The research group expects imports from Iran to come in at 533,400 bpd in December.

For the first 11 months of the year, China brought in close to 24.4 million tons of Iranian crude oil, or about 532,400 bpd, down 2.1% from the same period of a year ago, the customs data showed. The year-to-date volume is lower than a contracted amount of just over 600,000 bpd, mainly due to the fact that independent petrochemical producer Dragon Aromatics—a regular buyer of Iranian condensate—has been shut since a fire in April.

China's customs administration counts light oil condensates as crude oil. Also in November, Russia took the title of China's top supplier from Saudi Arabia for the third month this year.

Iran, once the second-largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries after Saudi Arabia, hopes to raise its crude exports by as much as 1 million bpd soon after sanctions imposed on its nuclear program are lifted.

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency passed a resolution ending a 12-year-long inquiry into suspicions of "possible military dimensions" to Iran's nuclear work, after six world powers reached a deal in July with the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program.