Asia's Iran Crude Imports Highest in Six Months

Asia's Iran Crude Imports Highest in Six MonthsAsia's Iran Crude Imports Highest in Six Months

Imports of Iranian crude by major buyers in Asia rose in September for a third straight month to their highest since March, boosted by a surge in purchases in China and South Korea.

China, India, South Korea and Japan imported slightly more than 1.9 million barrels per day last month, up 5.1% from a year earlier, government and ship-tracking data showed. Their imports rose nearly 20% from August, Reuters reported.

Still, purchases from the Asian buyers remain below highs that were hit earlier this year and last year, as Tehran ramped up exports following the lifting of economic sanctions, after it had agreed to constraints on its nuclear program.

Imports by the Asian buyers, which take the bulk of Iran’s oil exports, are likely to fall in coming weeks as shipments bound for the region have dropped below 1.5 million bpd for October, a person with knowledge of the Middle Eastern nation’s tanker loading schedules told Reuters.

Chinese imports from Iran in September rose nearly 60% from a year ago to about 784,000 bpd, down from August when China imported the highest monthly amount since 2006, according to data on Reuters Eikon. South Korea’s imports rose by nearly a quarter to just over 504,000 bpd, a five-month high. India’s imports fell by a third to 415,400 bpd.

Imports to Japan, which announced official figures on Tuesday, were down by more than 30% at a bit less than 216,000 bpd. Under a pact between members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC members to cut crude supplies by 1.8 million barrels per day through the first quarter of next year to ease inventories, Iran is told to produce 3.8 million barrels daily.

OPEC sources and the country's own data point to Iran's compliance, but the oil supply cut deal has no framework on how much each country should be allowed to export.

According to a report by the Central Bank of Iran in September, traditional customers of Iranian crude, including China, India, South Korea and Japan, take in more than 60% of its exports while orders by European companies account for nearly 40% of outbound shipments.

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