China’s Iran crude oil imports down 17 percent on year in January

A boy walks past an oil barrel which is being used as a water bucket at a car wash in a migrant workers' village in Beijing February 12, 2015. (Reuters)

Beijing Reuters China’s crude imports from Iran fell 17 percent in January from a year ago as the world’s second largest crude importer eased off a late-2014 buying spree, although the shipments still came in higher than forecast, customs data showed on Friday.

The imports last month from Iran were 1.99 million tons, or 469,000 barrels per day (bpd), also down 22 percent from December, the data showed.

Thomson Reuters Oil Research & Forecasts had put China’s imports from Iran in January at 1.86 million tons, or 438,000 bpd. Volumes from Iran are expected to have rebounded in February to just over 550,000 bpd, despite the week-long Lunar New Year holiday falling in the second half of the month.

The January imports were lower than last year’s daily average of 550,000 bpd - which was only slightly lower than the daily averages seen in 2011 before the United States and the European Union toughened sanction over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program in early 2012.

The Western sanctions against Iran were eased in a late-2013 deal that allowed it to export about 1 million bpd while negotiations continue over its disputed nuclear program. The move prompted both China and India to raise crude imports from Iran last year, especially during the first six months of 2014.

China ramped up overall crude imports late last year, taking advantage of a collapse in oil prices in part to build its strategic petroleum reserves. In December, its total crude imports topped 7 million bpd for the first time.

In January, China’s crude imports from top exporter Saudi Arabia also fell as the buying spree slowed, dropping 15 percent from a year ago to 1.02 million bpd.

Imports from Russia were 689,800 bpd, however, up 31 percent on the year. Russia became China’s third-largest crude supplier last year, behind Saudi Arabia and Angola.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45