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Asia’s Aug Iran oil imports hit 2-month low, set to drop further

Imports of Iranian crude oil by major buyers in Asia hit a two-month low in August, hurt by a more than 80 percent plunge in South Korean purchases ahead of upcoming U.S. sanctions on Tehran, government and ship-tracking data showed. China, India, Japan and South Korea last month imported 1.57 million barrels per day (bpd) from Iran, according to the data. That was down 4.1 percent from August 2017, and marked a decline of about 300,000 bpd from the previous month.

Overall purchases of crude from Iran by the four countries are expected to drop further in coming months. Washington is pushing allies to cut Iranian oil imports to zero once the U.S. sanctions kick in on Nov. 4. Japan has joined South Korea in temporarily halting Iranian oil loadings as it remains unclear whether the U.S. administration will grant Tokyo an exemption from the sanctions, the head of the country’s refinery association said last week. Exports of Iranian crude oil and condensates have declined by 0.8 million bpd from April to September 2018, the Institute of International Finance said on Tuesday.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other oil producers are considering raising output by 500,000 bpd to counter falling supply from Iran. South Korean August imports slumped 84.2 percent to 64,516 bpd. The country halted all shipments of Iranian oil from July for the first time in six years, sources said. That outweighed a 65.3 percent jump in Japan’s imports to 177,475 bpd in August, trade ministry data showed on Friday, before the country’s refiners halted loadings.

China’s imports of Iranian crude rose 2.3 percent in August from a year ago to 804,839 bpd, according to oil flow data on Thomson Reuters Eikon. China earlier this year halted the release of country breakdowns for its crude imports. Meanwhile India’s August imports from Iran jumped 55.9 percent from last year to 522,900 bpd. India is committed to buying Iranian oil and continuing the two nations’ economic cooperation, the Iranian foreign minister said on Thursday.

The tables below outline Iran crude imports in bpd by Asia’s biggest buyers for last month and the year to date:

 Nation      Aug-18      Aug-17   yr/yr pct
  China    804,839     786,720          2.3
  India    522,900     335,400         55.9
  Japan    177,475     107,357         65.3
  Korea     64,516     407,323        -84.2
  Total  1,569,730   1,636,800         -4.1
  Nation  Jan-Aug 2018  Jan-Aug 2017  yr/yr pct
   China      666,793       609,886         9.3
   India      600,400       497,600        20.7
   Japan      166,890       159,196         4.8
   Korea      239,514       413,337       -42.1
   Total    1,673,597     1,680,019        -0.4

Source: Reuters

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