May 31, 2017 / 7:18 AM / 4 months ago

Asian imports of Iranian oil in April rose 23 pct from a year ago

    * Asian buyers import 1.6 mln bpd of Iran oil in April
    * Imports down 18 pct from March
    * YTD imports rise by 40 pct

    By Aaron Sheldrick
    TOKYO, May 31 (Reuters) - The four biggest buyers of Iranian
crude oil in Asia increased their imports in April by nearly 23
percent from a year earlier as Tehran's exemption from a global
production cuts favours the country's oil export drive.
    China, India, South Korea and Japan imported 1.6 million
barrels per day (bpd) last month, government and ship-tracking
data showed.
    However, exports to Asia were down nearly 18 percent from
March, suggesting Iran may be at the limits of its efforts to
boost production after sanctions were lifted in January 2015.
Iran has cleared out most of the oil it held in storage while
the sanctions were in place. Asian countries buy most of the oil
the country exports. 
    Iran is pushing hard to raise production and hopes to sign
deals with oil majors such as Total and Lukoil
 this year after the re-election this month of
President Hassan Rouhani.
    A tender for the Azadegan oilfield, which has an estimated
37 billion barrels of crude, started on Monday, the Islamic
Republic News Agency reported.
    The development of new fields as well as improved oil
recovery from mature reservoirs should allow Iran, the
third-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC), to have the capacity to pump 5
million barrels per day (bpd), or 5 percent of global crude,
from 4 million bpd now.
    In the first four months of 2017, the four Asian countries
imported 1.8 million bpd, a 40 percent rise from the same period
last year.
    Iran was exempted from a deal between OPEC and other
producers, including Russia, to reduce output by 1.8 million bpd
from Jan. 1, and will remain so after the cut was extended last
week for a further nine months.
    Japan's trade ministry on Wednesday released official data,
showing Iranian imports were at 41,401 bpd last month, more than
double the figure from a year earlier. 
    They were down sharply from more than 220,000 bpd in March
as Japanese buyers waited for the government to extend a
state-backed insurance arrangement for purchases.
    Tanker tracking data on ThomsonReuters Eikon indicates more
oil was scheduled to arrive in Japan in April but importers are
allowed to hold cargoes offshore or in warehouses before
clearing them, under government regulations. 
        
    The following tables show Asia's Iran crude imports in bpd
for last month and the year to date.
        
 Country            Apr-17        Apr-16    yr/yr pct
 China             641,084       671,176         -4.5
 India             535,100       392,900         36.2
 Japan              41,401        19,161        116.1
 South Korea       403,700       237,133         70.2
 Total           1,621,285     1,320,370         22.8
 Country      Jan-Apr 2017  Jan-Apr 2016    yr/yr pct
 China             579,582       551,282          5.1
 India             563,800       322,500         74.8
 Japan             176,183       162,588          8.4
 South Korea       490,342       247,628         98.0
 Total           1,809,907     1,283,998         41.0
 
    
 (Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Vyas Mohan and
Christian Schmollinger)
  

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