China continued Iran oil imports in July in teeth of US sanctions: Report

Iran is now relying on the Asia’s rising dragon to be a helping hand in its oil sales as the US sanctions impede foreign Iranian crude flow. The latest data show China is trying hard to prove the US can’t affect its economy.

10 August 2019
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Iran is now relying on the Asia’s rising dragon to be a helping hand in its oil sales as the US sanctions impede foreign Iranian crude flow. The latest data show China is trying hard to prove the US can’t affect its economy.

Workers are seen near pumpjacks at a China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) oil field in Bayingol, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China August 7, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

China imported Iranian crude oil in July for the second month since a US sanctions waiver ended, according to research from three data firms, with one estimate showing some oil entered tanks holding the country’s strategic reserves.

According to the firms, which track tanker movements, between 4.4 million and 11 million barrels of Iranian crude were discharged into China last month, or 142,000 to 360,000 barrels per day (bpd). The upper end of that range would mean July imports still added up to close to half of their year-earlier level despite sanctions, Reuters reports. 

The imports are continuing at a precarious moment in US-China relations: The flow is hampering US President Donald Trump’s efforts to choke off oil exports vital to Iran through sanctions, just as tensions rise in the festering US-China trade dispute that has cast a pall over the global economy.

Senior Trump administration officials estimate that 50-70% of Iran’s oil exports are flowing to China, while roughly 30% go to Syria, according to the report. 

China is typically Iran’s largest oil customer and contests Washington’s sanctions. But June imports of around 210,000 bpd were the lowest in nearly a decade and 60% below their year-ago level, according to customs data, as some Chinese refiners, concerned about the sanctions, refrained from dealing with Iran.

The General Administration of Chinese Customs (GAC) is scheduled to release details of July imports by origin in the last week of August.

Neither the National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC), the state planner that oversees the country’s state oil reserves, nor the national customs bureau responded to Reuters’ requests for comment.

Late last month, Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri called on China and other countries friendly with Iran to buy more Iranian oil, the oil ministry news website SHANA reported.

 

 

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