* Jan condensate exports to fall 17 pct vs Dec
* First condensate loading to Netherlands since sanctions
* Crude, condensate exports in Dec hit 5-month low
By Osamu Tsukimori
TOKYO, Jan 13 Iranian condensate exports are set
to fall 17 percent to a five-month low this month, a source with
knowledge of Iran's preliminary tanker schedule said, as main
buyer South Korea cuts purchases by nearly half and takes more
barrels from Qatar.
Loadings of condensate in January are set to reach about
385,000 barrels per day (bpd), down from an estimated 462,000
bpd in December.
Shipments of the ultra-light oil have eased since reaching a
2016 high of 560,000 bpd in October, more than double the level
from January 2016 when Western sanctions against Tehran were
Iran, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum
Exporting Countries, does not publish monthly data on its
condensate and crude exports.
The expected fall in Iranian condensate shipments is mainly
due to a significant drop in buying from South Korea, which is
scheduled to import a six-month low of 111,000 bpd, nearly half
the 201,000 bpd taken in December, according to the source, who
declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.
The Asian nation has increased purchases of Qatari
condensate after the Middle East country offered more of the
fuel for exports, according to traders. Iran and Qatar are the
world's biggest condensate exporters.
Last year, robust South Korean demand helped spark a
recovery of Iranian crude and condensate exports to a five-year
high in September.
Iran scored a victory when it was exempted from the OPEC
deal agreed in November to reduce production by 1.2 million bpd,
and traders have expected it to raise output slightly and boost
exports to reclaim market share.
Tehran has also been aggressively marketing oil from its
offshore storage. It has sold more than 13 million barrels of
oil that it had long held on tankers at sea.
SLOWING ASIAN DEMAND
Iranian crude and condensate exports last month hit a
five-month low of around 2.34 million bpd, down 4 percent from
the previous month, as slowing Asian demand offset strong
European demand, the source said.
The Netherlands loaded nearly 30,000 bpd of condensate last
month, the source said, marking its first lifting from Iran
following the lifting of sanctions.
The preliminary tanker schedule for crude shipments in
January was not yet available.
Iranian oil exports to Asia last month fell about 18 percent
from November to a nine-month low of 1.43 million bpd, as all
major importers except India cut their purchases, the source
Loadings for Europe rose by 14 percent from November to
nearly 800,000 bpd, topping levels seen prior to the imposition
of toughened Western sanctions in 2012.
Crude and condensate that loaded last month include 434,000
bpd for China, down 26 percent from November; 534,000 bpd for
India, up 4 percent; 202,000 bpd for Japan, down 1 percent; and
261,000 bpd for South Korea, down 30 percent.
(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Additional reporting by Florence
Tan in SINGAPORE; Editing by Tom Hogue and Randy Fabi)