February 28, 2018 / 6:53 AM / a year ago

Asia's Jan oil imports from Iran rise 3.3 pct yr/yr to 3-mth high

    * Asia January imports hit 1.7 mln bpd, highest since
    * China imports up 85.9 pct yr/yr, helping offset other
    * Japan shipments fall 2.9 pct yr/yr

    By Osamu Tsukimori
    TOKYO, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Imports of Iranian crude oil by
major buyers in Asia rose 3.3 percent in January from the year
before to a three-month high, as a jump in purchases by top
buyer China offset lower volumes in three other countries,
government and ship-tracking data showed.
    China, India, Japan and South Korea last month imported a
total of 1.70 million barrels per day (bpd) from Iran, the
highest volume since October, the data showed. That is slightly
more than their 2017 average of 1.67 million bpd.
    Iran has been pushing to retain customers in Asia in the
face of a potential renewal of U.S. sanctions over its nuclear
programme, hoping concessions will boost the appeal of its crude
compared with other Middle Eastern suppliers. 
    China's January imports of Iranian crude jumped 85.9 percent
from the previous year to 748,715 bpd, the largest since last
September and following three straight months of year-on-year
declines. The country's overall crude imports jumped by about a
fifth in January.
    India's imports from Iran declined 10.7 percent to 495,200
bpd in January, according to the data.
    Iran has offered to raise the freight discount on oil sales
to India in return for New Delhi agreeing to boost imports, as
the OPEC member is keen to eat into the market share of other
producers including top rivals Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

    Iran's oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said in mid-February that
Indian refiners - state-owned and private - would buy about
500,000 bpd of Iranian oil in 2018/19.
    U.S. President Donald Trump in January gave a 2015 Iran
nuclear deal a final reprieve, but warned European allies and
Congress they had to work with him to fix "the disastrous flaws"
in the pact or face a U.S. exit.
    Imports into Japan were down 2.9 percent from a year earlier
at 203,259 bpd, monthly data from the country's Ministry of
Economy, Trade and Industry showed on Wednesday.
    The tables below outline Iran crude imports in bpd by Asia's
biggest buyers for last month:
   Nation      Jan-18      Jan-17   yr/yr pct
    China    748,715     402,750         85.9
    India    495,200     554,600        -10.7
    Japan    203,259     209,319         -2.9
    Korea    252,000     478,032        -47.3
    Total  1,699,174   1,644,701          3.3

 (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori
Editing by Joseph Radford)
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