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After easing up on Iranian oil somewhat in favor of heavily discounted Russian crude, China is now set to receive nearly two million barrels of Iranian oil, Reuters reports, citing Vortexa Analytics tanker tracking data.
The cargo, set to unload in south China later this week for pumping into the government’s reserves, is the third large cargo to come from Iran since December.
The cargo is reportedly on board a tanker owned by the National Iranian Tanker Company, which indicates it will be officially recorded as a Chinese purchase of Iranian crude.
As Reuters notes, China does not officially register all of its crude imports from Iran, with some masked to appear as if they are coming from other suppliers, including Iraq and Oman. Reuters estimates that unofficial Iranian crude imports to China are around 7% of China’s total crude imports.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Iranian oil exports rose to 870,000 bpd in the first three months of this year, which represents a 30% increase over total 2021 exports.
Nor is China expected to be hit by secondary sanctions by the U.S. for dealing with Iran “because Washington has its plate full with Russia,” a Kpler analyst told the Journal.
While Iran may be optimistic following Washington’s move yesterday to ease some sanctions on Venezuela, so far, there are no indications of progress in the nuclear deal with Iran.
On Tuesday, Washington said a deal was “far from certain” and the onus was fully on Tehran, which continues to make demands for conditions that the United States will not agree to.
Despite a lack of agreement, Iran appears to be preparing for some form of sanctions easing due to supply pressure as a result of sanctions on Russia. According to Seatrade Maritime, the NITC has recently announced new construction of crude oil tankers and repairs to its aging fleet in an apparent preparation for re-entering the legitimate global oil market.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com