Iran’s oil sales to the four major crude buyers in Asia plunged in November to the lowest level in more than five years, as Indian imports slumped and South Korea and Japan had halted purchases before the U.S. sanctions on the Iranian oil industry returned.
The combined oil imports from Iran of China, India, South Korea, and Japan dropped by 12.7 percent annually in November to 664,800 bpd, Reuters reports, citing data from governments and ship-tracking sources.
China’s oil imports from Iran edged up in November compared to October to average nearly 390,000 bpd last month, up from a low of 247,000 bpd in October—the lowest in more than five years.
Indian oil imports from Iran, however, plunged by 40 percent in November compared to October, as the second-largest buyer of Iranian oil had scaled back nominations for November hoping to win a U.S. waiver to continue importing oil from Tehran.
South Korea and Japan had completely stopped imports from Iran even before the U.S. sanctions snapped back. For a third consecutive month in November, South Korea didn’t import any Iranian crude oil, and neither did Japan.
Yet, all four major Asian buyers of Iranian oil were given U.S. waivers to continue importing oil from Iran until early May. Therefore, Asia’s imports from Iran are expected to tick up in the next few months, probably until March, when those four countries will want to have completed all loadings and transactions before the current waivers expire.
Japan and South Korea will resume Iranian oil imports in January, while Chinese oil imports from Iran are on course to rebound in December from the lows of October and November as China’s state-held companies have already started to use the U.S. waivers to continue importing Iranian oil at reduced volumes.