August 31, 2018 / 8:00 AM / in 8 months

Asia's July Iran oil imports hit 10-mth high, but expected to drop in coming months

    * Asia July imports total 1.87 mln bpd -govt, shipping data
    * But expected to drop in run up to sanctions in November

    By Osamu Tsukimori
    TOKYO, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Imports of Iranian crude oil by
major buyers in Asia hit a 10-month high in July, as only South
Korea lowered imports ahead of upcoming U.S. sanctions on
Tehran, government and ship-tracking data showed.
    China, India, Japan and South Korea last month imported 1.87
million barrels per day (bpd) from Iran, according to the data.
That was up 23.3 percent from a year ago and the highest since
last September. 
    But overall purchases of crude from Iran by the four
countries are expected to drop significantly in coming months,
with U.S. sanctions on the nation's oil exports due to start on
Nov. 4.
    Washington has asked buyers of Iranian oil to cut imports to
zero in the run up to that time to force Tehran to negotiate a
new nuclear agreement and to curb its influence in the Middle
    Iran's crude oil and condensate exports in August are set to
fall below 70 million barrels for the first time since April
2017, preliminary trade flows data has shown.
    China's imports of Iranian crude rose 27 percent in July
from a year ago to 722,000 bpd, according to Reuters oil flow
data on Eikon. China earlier this year halted the release of
country breakdowns for its crude imports.
    China has switched to using Iranian tankers to deliver the
country's crude since July to side-step the sanctions and
sustain Iranian oil imports until at least October, according to
    India's July imports from Iran jumped 85.1 percent from last
year to 768,000 bpd, topping China's volumes for the second
month in a row.
    South Korean imports slumped 45.8 percent to 200,000 bpd.
The country has halted all shipments of Iranian oil from July
for the first time in six years, sources said, with government
data likely to show no Iranian oil imports in August.

    Iran crude imports into Japan in July rose 9.6 percent from
a year earlier to 184,000 bpd, Japanese trade ministry data
showed on Friday.
    Japan-bound loadings have been scaled back to 3.4 million
barrels, or about 110,000 bpd, in August, down for a second
straight month. Japanese refiners are expected to load their
last Iranian oil by mid-September, trading sources said, so it
will arrive in Japan before November.
    "Japanese refiners have virtually given up hope that their
government will get a waiver from the United States," said a
Japanese trading source, declining to be identified as he was
not authorised to speak with media.
    The tables below outline Iran crude imports in bpd by Asia's
biggest buyers for last month and the year to date: 
  Nation      Jul-18      Jul-17  yr/yr pct
   China    722,358     568,719        27.0
   India    768,000     414,900        85.1
   Japan    183,560     167,505         9.6
   Korea    199,839     368,935       -45.8
   Total  1,873,757   1,520,059        23.3
 Nation  Jan-July 2018  Jan-July 2017  yr/yr pct
  China       646,711        584,006        10.7
  India       611,800        521,300        17.4
  Japan       165,343        166,777        -0.9
  Korea       265,104        414,217       -36.0
  Total     1,688,958      1,686,300         0.2

 (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori)
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