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Iranian oil import surges to one-year high

Tehran, March 15, 2014

Global imports of Iranian oil hit a one-year high in January and February, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said yesterday, data that industry sources say suggests a temporary deal on sanctions pressure on Tehran has helped its oil sales to recover.

Imports of Iranian crude, including condensate, reached 1.41 million barrels per day (bpd) in January and February, the IEA said in a monthly report. The IEA revised up January's figure by 90,000 bpd.

"Higher Iranian imports in recent months reflect, in large part, increased sales of condensates to Asian buyers," the Paris-based agency said. "Imports of Iranian oil surged in Japan and South Korea, albeit from exceptionally low January levels."

Preliminary data from Korea Customs Service also showed that South Korea imported about 8.2m barrels of crude from Iran in February, more than doubling the amount from a year earlier.

The rise in shipments follows a six-month interim deal Iran and world powers implemented on January 20 in which Iran agreed to curbs on its nuclear programme in return for access to more than $4 billion in oil revenues that had been frozen in foreign accounts. That has improved sentiment and reduced uncertainty for buyers, oil traders and industry sources say.

Iran's six global oil buyers, including its top purchasers China, India, Japan, and South Korea, are expected to hold combined purchases of the petroleum to an average of 1m bpd over the course of the deal.

But an energy policy analyst said it was too early to tell how much oil the buyers would eventually purchase, especially as February was the first full month of data after the deal was implemented.

Turkey increased its imports from Iran last month and shipments to Syria rose slightly, the IEA said. But Iran's two biggest customers, China and India, imported less.

China's imports will probably be revised up as the IEA said three very large crude carriers were anchored off the Chinese coast and oil was sent to Batam Island, used as a transfer point for shipments to China.

Iranian exports rose last month to at least 1.3m bpd as extra shipments headed to Syria, South Korea and Batam, reports said.-Reuters




Tags: Iran | oil imports |

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