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China’s Sinopec Looks To Make Special Arrangement For Iranian Oil Imports

China’s Sinopec, the world’s top refiner by capacity, is in talks with government authorities and suppliers to make special arrangements for Iranian crude oil imports in the coming weeks, S&P Global Platts quoted a senior Sinopec manager as saying on the company’s Q3 earnings call on Wednesday.

Sinopec buys around two-thirds of China’s crude oil imports from Iran. China as a whole is the single largest oil customer of Tehran and wasn’t expected to bring down its oil imports from Iran to ‘zero’, as the U.S. has been demanding from Iranian buyers with the sanctions that snap back in five days.

Sinopec’s imports from Iran averaged 410,000 bpd last year, making up 8.6 percent of the company’s total crude throughput, according to Platts data based on company filings with the U.S. SEC.

Many of Sinopec’s refineries in China are configured to use oil from Iran, Platts quoted the company’s Vice President Huang Wensheng as saying on the briefing call on Wednesday. Yet, the manager was confident that Sinopec—which imports 85 percent of the crude it processes—would have security in oil supply despite the uncertainties regarding Iranian oil.

Sinopec has already executed its crude oil import plan for November, Huang said, but declined to elaborate on loadings for Iranian oil. 

Last week, reports had it that China’s largest refiners, state-held Sinopec and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), hadn’t booked any crude oil cargoes from Iran for November due to fears that in doing so, they would be in breach of the U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil.

The key concern for the state-owned refiners is the uncertainty over whether Iran’s Chinese customers could obtain waivers from the sanctions, Reuters reported last week, quoting two people with direct knowledge of the plans.

China has said that it would not stop buying Iranian oil despite U.S. efforts to have the Iranian exports down to zero. But Beijing was also said to have agreed to refrain from increasing its oil purchases from Iran. Iran, for its part, is keen to keep its single biggest oil customer when U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil exports kick in.

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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