China’s imports of crude from Iran rebounded to the highest level in six months in December after the U.S. renewed an exemption from penalties on banks that process payments for Iranian crude, Bloomberg reported today. China is Iran’s biggest oil customer.
China bought 2.52 million metric tons of oil from Iran last month, up 43 percent from November, when purchases slipped 9.3 percent. Shipments averaged 596,000 barrels a day, the data from China’s General Administration of Customs showed. (Bloomberg, 21 January)
China’s total crude imports from Iran in 2012, however, slid 21 percent to 22 million tons.
“The annual decrease in imports was within expectations and safely in the range of 20 percent to 30 percent in crude cuts required by the U.S.,” said Li Li, an oil analyst with Shanghai-based commodity researcher C1 Energy. “China will continue to import limited crude from Iran just to get around the U.S. as a political compromise.” (Bloomberg, 21 January)
Saudi Arabia continued to rank as China’s largest crude supplier last year, providing 53.9 million tons, up 7.3 percent from 2011. The Saudis accounted for 20 percent of China’s imports.
Photo credit: Iran’s Kharq Oil Export Terminal (Getty Images)