June 30, 2017 / 10:01 AM / 7 months ago

Asian imports of Iranian oil slow for first time since Jan 2016

    * Asia imports 1.60 mln bpd of Iran oil in May, down 1.7 pct
    * Japan imports tumble 47.8 pct yr/yr due in part to
    * Jan-May Asia imports up 30.5 pct yr/yr

    By Osamu Tsukimori
    TOKYO, June 30 (Reuters) - Imports of Iranian crude by its
four main buyers in Asia fell 2 percent in May from a year ago,
marking the first year-on-year decline since January 2016, when
Western sanctions were lifted leading to a spike in Tehran's
    Iran's top four Asian buyers - China, India, South Korea and
Japan - imported 1.60 million barrels per day (bpd) last month,
government and ship-tracking data showed.
    Iran was exempted from the Organization of the Petroleum
Exporting Countries agreement to reduce output by 1.2 million
bpd that began this year, a victory for Tehran which has argued
it needs to regain the market share it lost under Western
sanctions over its disputed nuclear programme.
    Overall Iranian oil output was hovering at more than 3.9
million bpd and is expected to reach 4 million bpd by March
2018, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said this month.
    Iran's oil exports to the West surged in May to their
highest level since sanctions were lifted, a source familiar
with Iranian oil exports said.
    Looking ahead, Iran's crude oil exports in July are set to
fall 7 percent from this month's three-month high, mainly due to
a decline in exports to Europe, a person with knowledge of the
Middle Eastern country's tanker loading schedule said.

    Japan's trade ministry on Friday released official data
showing its Iranian imports tumbled by nearly half, reflecting
lower demand because of the refinery maintenance season.
    The following tables show Asia's Iran crude imports in bpd
for last month and the year to date. 
 Nation          May-17       May-16  yr/yr pct
 China         681,762      619,300          10.1
 India         487,600      379,200          28.6
 Japan         160,551      307,691         -47.8
 Korea         265,516      316,839         -16.2
 Total       1,595,429    1,623,030          -1.7
   Nation  Jan-May 2017  Jan-May 2016   yr/yr pct
    China      600,597       565,167          6.3
    India      548,200       334,100         64.1
    Japan      172,974       192,181        -10.0
    Korea      444,185       261,743         69.7
    Total    1,765,956     1,353,191         30.5

 (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Christian
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