(Repeats earlier story for wider readership with no change to
By Chen Aizhu
BEIJING Jan 5 China's Iranian crude oil imports
may rise to a record this year as state-owned oil firms lift
more crude through their upstream investments while extending
their current supply contracts, senior industry and trading
Chinese firms were expected to lift between 3 million to 4
million barrels more Iranian oil each quarter in 2017 than last
year, four sources with knowledge of the matter estimated. That
would be about 5 percent to 7 percent higher than the 620,000
barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian crude the country has imported
during the first 11 months of 2016, according to the customs
Iran, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC), won an exemption from the group's
production cuts agreed to on Nov. 30 and may raise output
China's demand for foreign crude could touch new highs as
state-run refiners start up new plants and as Beijing allows
more independent refiners to import crude, with the country
forecast to remain a key driver of 2017 demand growth.
State refiner Sinopec Corp and state-run oil
trader Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp, the two biggest Chinese lifters of
Iran's oil, are set to roll over annual supply agreements with
National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC), with combined volumes of about
505,000 bpd, two sources with knowledge of the agreements said.
Additionally, China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and
Sinopec expect to lift more oil this year from two oilfields
they operate under service contracts, the sources said.
A press official with Sinopec said the company does not
comment on operational matters. CNPC and NIOC did not
immediately respond to requests for comment.
Sinopec signed a development deal for the Yadavaran field in
late 2007 with CNPC signing a deal for the North Azadegan field
in 2009, after Japanese and European companies pulled out of the
projects, both in the southwestern Iranian province of
Khuzestan, due to sanctions over Iran's nuclear programme.
Both fields started pumping oil in early 2016, with North
Azadegan reaching full production in the third quarter and
Yadavaran in the fourth quarter, and they are currently pumping
at around 160,000 bpd.
"The terms of return on investment are still being finalised
...but it's safe to say Sinopec is going to lift more from
Yadavaran this year than last," said a Beijing-based oil
executive familiar with Sinopec's operations on Yadavaran.
A separate senior trading source estimated that Sinopec
could lift about 4 million barrels of Yadavaran crude,
considered a heavy grade with an API gravity rating of about 25,
every quarter this year. The person did not give an earlier
After first shipments last October, CNPC is expected to lift
an average of about 3 million barrels from North Azadegan each
quarter, said a second senior trader with knowledge of CNPC's
(Additonal reporting by; Rania El Gamal in DUBAI; Editing by