Asia's Jan. Import of Iran Crude Steady

Asia's Jan. Import of Iran Crude SteadyAsia's Jan. Import of Iran Crude Steady

Asian imports of Iranian oil held steady in January from a year earlier, as most of Iran's biggest crude buyers restrained their purchases until right before sanctions were lifted last month as part of an agreement on Tehran's nuclear program.

Iran's rehabilitation in the international commercial system is likely to start feeding through to official buyer's data from March after loading for exports surged this month and in late January, according to data obtained by Reuters.

Imports by Iran's four biggest buyers, mainly China, India, Japan and South Korea, came to 981,000 barrels per day in January, down 0.1% from a year earlier, government and tanker-tracking data show.

The January imports for the four main buyers were down from 2015's average rate of slightly above 1 million bpd during 2015.

With sanctions lifted after Tehran took the required steps set out in the July agreement with world powers on its nuclear program, Iran is seeking to ramp up exports to regain market share and help boost an economy that stagnated under the restrictions.

The sanctions kept Iran's exports at around 1 million bpd, down from an average 2.5 million bpd in 2011.

Indian imports slumped 37.6% from the year before. Japan's purchases of Iranian crude rose more than 10% in January from a year earlier to about 194,000 bpd, trade ministry data showed on Monday, the most since March last year.