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China’s Iran Oil Intake Slumps, Imports From U.S. Double In September

Qingdao oil terminal

China’s imports of Iranian crude dropped in September both compared to the same month last year and to August, while crude oil imports from the U.S. doubled year-on-year in September despite the trade war, according to data from China’s General Administration of Customs, carried by Reuters.

Chinese oil imports from Iran slumped by 34 percent on the year to 518,300 bpd in September. China’s crude oil imports from Iran averaged 798,423 bpd in August, the customs data showed on Thursday.

Key Asian buyers of Iranian oil dramatically cut their purchases from Iran in September to the lowest level since the previous sanctions on Tehran were lifted in January 2016. While India increased its purchases of Iranian oil compared to September last year, China and Japan significantly reduced their imports from Iran, while South Korea stopped Iranian oil imports altogether—for the first time since September 2012, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing ship-tracking and government data.

At the same time, China’s crude oil imports from the United States more than doubled in September compared to a year earlier, to 1.04 million tons—or around 253,000 bpd—from 495,551 tons, despite the fact that the U.S.-China trade war intensified at the end of the summer with more tariffs slapped by both sides. Most of the increase of China’s U.S. imports came from Asia’s biggest refiner Sinopec, which purchases some 80 percent of all U.S. oil imported in China, a Chinese state oil official familiar with the country’s U.S. oil imports told Reuters.

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However, imports of U.S. crude oil by Chinese refiners are expected to plummet from October because of the trade war as importers fear that crude oil could be next on China’s tariff list, according to the official.

Between January and September, Chinese imports of U.S. oil soared by 150 percent to average around 324,600 bpd, according to the customs data reported by Reuters.

In September, Chinese oil imports from its single biggest supplier Russia rose to 1.65 million bpd from 1.54 million bpd a year earlier, while imports from the second-largest supplier, Saudi Arabia, dropped by 12 percent year on year to 919,800 bpd, according to the Chinese customs data.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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