The top Asian oil importers and Iranian oil customers—China, India, Japan, and South Korea—bought in June their lowest combined volume of Iranian oil in seven months, as South Korea slashed Iranian purchases amid returning U.S. sanctions on Tehran.
The four Asian oil importers bought in June a total of 1.45 million bpd from Iran, down by 0.5 percent compared to June 2017, and the lowest combined level since November 2017, according to ship-tracking and government data compiled by Reuters.
Iran’s largest oil customer—China—saw its Iranian imports increase by nearly 2 percent on the year to around 525,000 bpd in June, according to Reuters oil flow data. China is one of Iran’s customers not expected to halt shipments from Tehran when U.S. sanctions kick in later this year.
Indian imports jumped by almost 20 percent on the year in June. Yet, compared to May, when the U.S. said it would re-impose sanctions on Iran, Indian oil refiners reduced their orders for Iranian crude oil in June by 12 percent, India’s Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said in Parliament on Monday.
Some big Indian refiners worry that their access to the U.S. financial system could be cut off if they continue to import Iranian oil, and have started to reduce purchases from Tehran.
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South Korea’s imports from Iran plunged by 41 percent to 183,000 bpd in June compared to June 2017. Starting in July, South Korea is halting Iranian oil imports for the first time since 2012 amid pressure from the United States to discontinue purchases from Iran.
Japan’s imports of Iranian oil increased by 10 percent in June compared to the same month last year, Japan’s trade ministry data showed. Japan, however, is said to be preparing to stop Iranian oil imports to comply with U.S. demands that it completely stop buying crude from Iran.
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.