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Four major Asian importers of oil - China, India, South Korea, and Japan – saw their imports of Iranian crude surge 81.4 percent on the year in August, the highest level in at least five and a half years, Reuters reported on Friday, citing government and ship-tracking data.
The four Asian buyers imported 1.835 million barrels per day (bpd) last month, with China’s imports jumping 48.4 percent to 746,029 bpd, India’s buys soaring 189.6 percent at 575,900 bpd, the highest in at least 15 years, South Korea’s imports more than doubling, up 112.3 percent to 277,613 bpd, and Japan’s imports rising 31.4 percent to 235,612 bpd.
Year to date, the total Iranian oil imports of the four countries jumped 38.9 percent, with rises across the board, and Korea more than doubling imports between January and August.
Since western sanctions against Iran were lifted in January of this year, it has been trying to regain market shares and snatch some shares from Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
According to a Reuters source familiar with Iran’s tanker loading schedule, Iran increased its oil exports to more than 2 million bpd last month, close to pre-sanction levels.
Iran has been steadily increasing exports to Asia, and in April its shipments stood at 1.7 million bpd.
In the battle for market shares, Iran introduced in May a discount on the June contract for its heavy crude going to Asia, just a few days after Saudi Arabia had announced a price increase for its own June contract for the continent. With the discount, Iranian oil was noticeably cheaper for Asian clients than both Saudi and Iraqi crude.
A couple of months later, Saudi Arabia decided to offer Asian customers the biggest discount in 10 months for its crude, as the kingdom’s refineries struggled with an oversupply thanks to record-high output.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.