Imports of Iranian crude oil by major buyers in Asia hit a 10-month high in July, as only South Korea lowered imports ahead of upcoming U.S. sanctions on Tehran, government and ship-tracking data showed.
China, India, Japan and South Korea last month imported 1.87 million barrels per day (bpd) from Iran, according to the data. That was up 23.3 percent from a year ago and the highest since last September.
Washington has asked buyers of Iranian oil to cut imports to zero in the run up to that time to force Tehran to negotiate a new nuclear agreement and to curb its influence in the Middle East.
Iran’s crude oil and condensate exports in August are set to fall below 70 million barrels for the first time since April 2017, preliminary trade flows data has shown.
China’s imports of Iranian crude rose 27 percent in July from a year ago to 722,000 bpd, according to Reuters oil flow data on Eikon. China earlier this year halted the release of country breakdowns for its crude imports.
China has switched to using Iranian tankers to deliver the country’s crude since July to side-step the sanctions and sustain Iranian oil imports until at least October, according to sources.
India’s July imports from Iran jumped 85.1 percent from last year to 768,000 bpd, topping China’s volumes for the second month in a row.
South Korean imports slumped 45.8 percent to 200,000 bpd. The country has halted all shipments of Iranian oil from July for the first time in six years, sources said, with government data likely to show no Iranian oil imports in August.
Iran crude imports into Japan in July rose 9.6 percent from a year earlier to 184,000 bpd, Japanese trade ministry data showed on Friday.
Japan-bound loadings have been scaled back to 3.4 million barrels, or about 110,000 bpd, in August, down for a second straight month. Japanese refiners are expected to load their last Iranian oil by mid-September, trading sources said, so it will arrive in Japan before November.
“Japanese refiners have virtually given up hope that their government will get a waiver from the United States,” said a Japanese trading source, declining to be identified as he was not authorised to speak with media.