May 31, 2019 / 7:04 AM / a year ago

Asia's Iran oil imports hit 9-month high in April - data

    * April imports hit 1.62 mln bpd, highest since July - data
    * China's imports close to 800,000 bpd, highest since 2014
    * Jan-April imports are 24% lower y-o-y
    * Asia's Iran oil imports for 2015-2019

    By Florence Tan
    SINGAPORE, May 31 (Reuters) - Asia's crude oil imports from
Iran jumped to the highest in nine months in April, as buyers
rushed to ship in purchases before their waivers from U.S.
sanctions on Iran expired in May, data from government and trade
sources showed on Friday.
    Top buyers China, India, Japan and South Korea imported a
total 1.62 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude from Iran in
April, up 3.2% from the previous month to the highest since
July, the data showed.
    China's imports in April nearly touched 800,000 bpd, a level
not seen since 2014 when global powers and Iran were working on
an agreement to curb Tehran's nuclear programme.
    South Korea became the second-largest importer of Iranian
oil in April after India scaled back, with Korea's imports at
about 416,000 bpd, the highest for the country since 2017. The
world's fifth-largest crude oil importer had been heavily
reliant on Iranian condensate, an ultra light oil used for
petrochemical production.
    Still, the four countries' imports are down 24% in the first
four months this year, compared with the same period a year ago
because of the sanctions, the data showed.
    Last November, the United States allowed Iran's eight
largest buyers to continue importing oil from Tehran for 180
days, but Washington announced in April that it will not extend
the waivers.
    U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, reiterated
on Thursday that the United States will sanction any country
which buys oil from Iran after the expiration of waivers on May
    Japan and South Korea have stopped importing Iranian oil in
    China is expected to receive close to 11 million barrels of
Iranian oil this month, while 4 million barrels have been
discharged in India in May, according to data on Refinitiv
    The tables below outline Iran crude imports in bpd by Asia's
biggest buyers for December and the year to date:
 Nation      April 2019    April 2018    yr/yr pct
 China          789,137       650,871         21.2
 India          277,600       640,000        -56.6
 Japan          141,712        30,910        358.5
 Korea          415,533       333,700         24.5
 Total        1,623,982     1,655,481         -1.9
 Nation   Jan-April 2019   Jan-April 2018  yr/yr pct
 China            553,411                        -15.4
 India            304,500                        -44.8
 Japan            142,532                         -6.9
 Korea            276,920                        -13.7
 Total          1,277,363       1,680,371        -24.0

 (Reporting by Florence Tan; editing by Uttaresh.V)
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