MNA – China’s crude oil imports from Iran hit a seven-month high in March of 2.3 million mt, or 543,367 b/d, the latest data from China’s General Administration of Customs showed.
The previous highest monthly level was 3.28 million mt, recorded in August, Platts reported.
The March volume, days before the expiry of US waivers on the imports of Iranian oil, rose 6.2% from February on a barrels-per-day basis, despite dropping by a quarter from the same month of last year.
The White House announced Monday that the US would end all waivers from Iran oil sanctions when they expire May 2.
While some producers, including the US and Saudi Arabia, claim to be the alternatives of Iranian oil for China, the East Asian country did not import US-origin crude oil in March after taking its first cargo since December in February, which was 85,841 mt.
During January-March, China imported 5.84 million b/d of crude from OPEC, up 17% year on year to expand its market share by almost 5 percentage points to 59.2%; however, the volume from North America shrank 90% year on year to 32,574 b/d in the first two months due to the sharp drop in US crude arrivals.
Meanwhile, two Trump administration officials said on Friday that neither a wind-down period nor a short-term waiver on China’s oil purchases from Iran are being contemplated after Washington on Monday demanded that Iran’s customers halt the purchases by May 1 or face sanctions, Reuters reported.