October 31, 2017 / 6:11 AM / a year ago

Asian imports of Iranian oil hit highest in six months

    * Asia imports 1.9 mln bpd in Sep, up 5.1 pct yr/yr
    * China monthly imports rise 60 pct to 784,000 bpd
    * S.Korean imports hit 5-month high at 504,000 bpd
    * Japan imports drop more than 30 pct to 216,000 bpd
    * Indian imports down nearly a third at 415,400 bpd

    TOKYO, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Imports of Iranian crude by major
buyers in Asia rose in September for a third straight month to
their highest since March, boosted by a surge in purchases in
China and South Korea.
    China, India, South Korea and Japan imported slightly more
than 1.9 million barrels per day (bpd) last month, up 5.1
percent from a year earlier, government and ship-tracking data
showed. Their imports rose nearly 20 percent from August. 
    Still, purchases from the Asian buyers remain below highs
that were hit earlier this year and last year as Tehran ramped
up exports following the lifting of economic sanctions, after it
had agreed to constraints on its disputed nuclear programme. 
    Imports by the Asian buyers, which take the bulk of Iran's
oil exports, are likely to fall in coming weeks as shipments
bound for the region have dropped below 1.5 million bpd for
October, a person with knowledge of the Middle Eastern nation's
tanker loading schedules told Reuters. 
    Chinese imports from Iran in September rose nearly 60
percent from a year ago to about 784,000 bpd, down from August
when China imported the highest monthly amount since 2006,
according to data on Reuters Eikon. 
    South Korea's imports rose by nearly a quarter to just over
504,000 bpd, a five-month high. India's imports fell by a third
to 415,400 bpd.
    Imports to Japan, which announced official figures on
Tuesday, were down by more than 30 percent at a bit less than
216,000 bpd.
    The following tables outline Iran crude imports in bpd by
Asia's biggest buyers for last month and the year-to-date. 
 Country          Sep-17         Sep-16   yr/yr pct
 China           784,060        492,500        59.2
 India           415,400        615,100       -32.5
 Japan           215,564        312,825       -31.1
 Korea           504,033        405,833        24.2
 Total         1,919,057      1,826,258         5.1
 Country   Jan-Sept 2017  Jan-Sept 2016   yr/yr pct
 China           629,026        601,330         4.6
 India           488,600        418,800        16.7
 Japan           165,391        226,691       -27.0
 Korea           423,304        284,697        48.7
 Total         1,706,321      1,531,518        11.4
 (Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick and Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by
Tom Hogue)
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