June 29, 2018 / 5:53 AM / in 10 months

Asia's May Iran oil imports hit eight-month high

    * Asia May imports total 1.8 mln bpd-govt, ship data
    * India's imports surge 45 pct yr/yr
    * South Korean purchases down 27 pct yr/yr

    By Aaron Sheldrick
    TOKYO, June 29 (Reuters) - Imports of Iranian crude oil by
major buyers in Asia rose to the highest in eight months in May
as purchases increased ahead of possible new sanctions on the
Middle Eastern nation, government and ship-tracking data showed.
    China, India, Japan and South Korea last month imported 1.8
million barrels per day (bpd) from Iran, the data showed. That
was nearly 15 percent higher than a year earlier and the most
since September. 
    Purchases of crude from Iran by the four countries may fall
by the end of the year after President Donald Trump last month
pulled the U.S. out of a landmark agreement on curbing Tehran's
disputed nuclear programme. 
    The U.S. is reimposing sanctions on Iran that were lifted
after the agreement was agreed in July 2015 and demanding other
countries cut their trade ties with the Middle Eastern country.

    Those demands are starting to be heard. India's oil ministry
has asked refiners to prepare for a 'drastic reduction or zero'
imports of Iranian oil from November, two industry sources told
    China's imports of Iranian crude in May rose 5.3 percent to
just over 718,00 bpd from the previous year and are almost 10
percent higher in the first five months of the year. 
    India's imports from Iran jumped nearly 45 percent from May
last year to around 700,000 bpd and are up 6.4 percent in the
year through last month.
    South Korean purchases slumped 27 percent to nearly 194,000
bpd and fell by more than a third in the year to date. 
    Imports into Japan rose 32 percent in May to around 210,000
bpd from a year earlier, but are down 5 percent for the year,
data from the country's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
showed on Friday.
    The tables below outline Iran crude imports in bpd by Asia's
biggest buyers for last month and the year to date:
 Country             May-18         May-17  yr/yr pct
 China              718,004        681,762        5.3
 India              705,200        487,600       44.6
 Japan              211,097        160,551       31.5
 South Korea        193,774        265,516      -27.0
 Total            1,828,075      1,595,429       14.6
 Country       Jan-May 2018   Jan-May 2017  yr/yr pct
 China              656,276        600,597        9.3
 India              583,500        548,200        6.4
 Japan              164,986        172,974       -4.6
 South Korea        294,801        444,185      -33.6
 Total            1,699,563      1,765,956       -3.8
 (Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; additional reporting by Osamu
Tsukimori; editing by Richard Pullin)
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