* Sept imports at 382,400 bpd, down 24 pct y/y, up 3 pct m/m
* Jan-Sept imports at 420,800 bpd, down 22 pct y/y
(Adds details, background)
BEIJING Oct 24 China's crude oil imports from
Iran fell around a quarter in September from a year earlier,
data showed on Wednesday, as traders cited delivery delays by
Iranian tankers because of Western sanctions and a cut in
China, Iran's top oil customer, bought 1.57 million tonnes
of Iranian crude in September, equivalent to about 382,400
barrels per day (bpd), up 3 percent from 371,000 bpd in August,
according to data from the General Administration of Customs.
China imported 504,000 bpd of Iranian crude in September
Imports for the first nine months totalled 420,800 bpd, 22
percent below year-earlier levels, largely because of steep cuts
made in the first quarter as China and Iran wrangled over
Sinopec , Asia's biggest refiner, halted
purchases of condensate from Iran's South Pars field from July
through September, partly because of a planned refinery
overhaul, industry sources said.
Imports also declined because Iran's tanker fleet, the sole
transporter of its crude to China since July, has been
struggling to meet delivery schedules, trade sources said.
Iran, grappling with tough Western sanctions targeting its
energy and petrochemical sectors, has delayed loading of some
shipments for September, October and November to China, as a
result of the inability of Iran's shipping fleet to cope with
exports, trading sources have told Reuters.
The delays are further evidence the National Iranian Tanker
Company (NITC) is struggling to meet delivery schedules after a
European Union insurance ban caused buyers to cut back on
orders, forcing the company to deploy more than half of its
tanker fleet to store oil.
Exports from Iran, once the world's fourth-largest exporter,
slumped to a new low of 860,000 barrels per day (bpd) in
September, compared with 2.2 million bpd at the end of 2011, the
International Energy Agency (IEA) said.
(1 Tonne=7.3 barrels)
(Reporting by Judy Hua and David Stanway; Editing by Ed Davies)