China imported a record volume of Iranian oil last month as its condensate demand increased and as the Persian Gulf nation sought to boost crude exports.
China, the world’s second-largest oil consumer, bought 3.29 million metric tons of Iranian supplies in April, or about 804,000 barrels a day, data from the General Administration of Customs in Beijing showed today. That’s almost 40 percent more than in March and the most since Jan. 2004 when Bloomberg started compiling the data. Imports averaged 1.79 million tons a month last year.
Purchases have risen on an estimated 4 million tons of annual incremental demand from a petrochemicals producer in southern China and Iran’s push to sell more oil, according to ICIS-C1, a commodities researcher based in Shanghai. Dragon Aromaticsin Zhangzhou city started a long-term contract in June to buy Iranian condensate, including from the South Pars field, to add to feedstock to its naphtha cracking unit, Amy Sun, an ICIS-C1 analyst in Guangzhou, said by phone today.
China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., Asia’s biggest refiner, and plants owned by China North Industries Group, a military weapons manufacturer, are the country’s leading buyers of Iranian crude, according to Sun.
Iran will ship crude at the maximum level possible regardless of restrictions imposed in an interim deal with world powers that offered relief from sanctions over its nuclear program, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said on May 9.
The nation, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, should limit exports to an average of 1 million barrels a day in the six months through July, the U.S. said in November. Iran wants to pump an additional 1 million a day within four years from oil fields shared with neighbors, according to Zanganeh.
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