The latest market figures show that imports of Iranian crude oil by Asia’s four main buyers increased by about 70 percent in January.
Figures released by Reuters show that China, India, South Korea and Japan imported 1.64 million barrels per day (mb/d) of oil from Iran last month.
The report added that the figure was 67.6 percent higher than that registered for the same period a year ago when levels were lower as sanctions on Tehran had only just been lifted.
The volume was nevertheless the lowest in six months and marked a third straight month of decline from last year’s peak of 1.99 mb/d hit in October, according to data from the International Energy Agency.
On a related front, Japan’s Trade Ministry on Tuesday released official data showing its imports rose 7.9 percent from a year earlier to 209,319 barrels per day (bpd) last month.
India’s imports more than tripled to 554,600 bpd, topping China’s for the first time since November. South Korean imports more than doubled to 478,032 bpd, also beating China, to become the second-biggest buyer in Asia, Reuters added.
Iran’s total crude and condensate exports for February to global markets including Europe will be just over 2.20 mb/d, up from 2.16 mb/d last month, which is the lowest rate since July, an industry source familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Looking ahead, Japan will likely skip Iran crude loading in March as buyers are waiting for the government to extend sovereign ship insurance in the new fiscal year that starts in April, the report added.