India, S. Korea Cut Crude Imports From Iran

India, S. Korea Cut Crude Imports From IranIndia, S. Korea Cut Crude Imports From Iran

India's oil imports from Iran have fallen to their lowest since June 2016, shipping data shows, in possible retaliation for Tehran not awarding a gas field development to Indian companies.

South Korea's Iranian crude oil imports also dropped in May to their lowest in eight months as refiners bought less of the country's condensate, while Tehran struggled to maintain shipment volumes after exhausting stocks stored on tankers, Reuters reported.

India, Iran's top oil client after China, shipped in 487,600 barrels per day in May, about 9% less compared with April and nearly 40% less than a peak registered in October, according to ship tracking data obtained from sources and data compiled by Thomson Reuters Oil Research & Forecasts.

Most international sanctions against Tehran's nuclear program were lifted in January last year, and India's Iranian crude imports began climbing two months later in March.

In the fiscal year to March 2018, though, India has said it plans to order about a quarter less of Iranian crude due to a disagreement over the development of Iran's Farzad B gas field.

"We stood by them in difficult times. We still buy substantial amounts of oil from them, and we expect reciprocity from Iran," Indian Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told reporters on Wednesday when asked if India was still hopeful of getting the development rights for the Farzad B field.

Customs data showed on Thursday that South Korea's Iranian crude intake also fell 18.7% in May from a year ago to 1.02 million tons, or 242,058 barrels per day. That was the lowest since last October when Seoul imported 902,987 tons.

South Korea's crude imports data includes condensate, an ultra light blend, but a breakdown is not available.

"South Korean buyers purchased less condensate from Iran because of high prices and diversified condensate import sources," said a spokesman at SK Innovation, owner of South Korea's top refiner SK Energy. South Korea imports condensate mainly from Iran and Qatar. Iran's crude exports were set to fall to a 14-month low in May, a person with knowledge of Tehran's loading schedules told Reuters in April.


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