Customs data showed on Monday that the Chinese oil imports from Iran last month were 2.04 million tons, or 532,400 barrels per day (bpd), up 13.5 percent from January on a daily basis.
Thomson Reuters Oil Research & Forecasts had put China’s imports from Iran in February at 2.12 million tons, or 552,000 bpd.
Volumes from Iran are expected to jump in March to just over 650,000 bpd, as trade picks up after the week-long Lunar New Year holiday that fell in the second half of February, Reuters reported.
China’s total crude imports topped 7 million bpd for the first time in December.
Iran is currently China’s third largest supplier of crude, providing Beijing with roughly 12 percent of its total annual oil consumption.
China imported a record amount of crude oil from Iran in the first half of 2014 amid a loosening of sanctions against Tehran, further increasing Beijing’s reliance on the Middle-East oil supplies.
Chinese customs data showed that Iranian oil imports in the first six months of 2014 were 630,000 barrels a day, up 48% from the same period last year, the Wall Street Journal reported.
That is the most crude that China has ever imported from Iran in any first half in history, according to Li Li, the head of research and analytics at consultancy ICIS C1 Energy.
Iran represented about 10% of China’s foreign crude purchases in the first half.
Managing Director of the China office of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) Maziyar Hojjati said easing of sanctions against Tehran has contributed to the surge in imports.
Trade between Iran and China in the past year was estimated at $45bln.