December 28, 2018 / 8:32 AM / 6 months ago

Asia's Iran crude imports hit more than five-year low in November as sanctions bite

FILE PHOTO: Malta-flagged Iranian crude oil supertanker "Delvar" is seen anchored off Singapore March 1, 2012. . REUTERS/Tim Chong

SINGAPORE/TOKYO (Reuters) - Imports of Iranian crude oil by major buyers in Asia hit their lowest in more than five years in November as U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil exports took effect last month, government and ship-tracking data showed.

China, India, Japan and South Korea last month imported about 664,800 barrels per day (bpd) from Iran, according to the data, down 12.7 percent from the same month a year earlier.

South Korea cut imports to zero for a third month in November while Japan followed suit. India’s November imports are down about 40 percent from October, the data showed.

Asia’s Iranian oil imports are set to rise from December after the United States granted eight countries waivers from sanctions against Iran’s oil exports for 180 days.

China’s Iranian oil imports rebounded to close to 390,000 bpd in November, up from about 247,000 bpd in October, the lowest in more than five years.

Sinopec, Tehran’s biggest crude buyer, resumed Iran oil imports shortly after China received its waiver in November while China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) will restart lifting its own Iranian oil production in December.

Japan and South Korea are preparing to resume Iranian oil imports in early 2019.

India is expected to restrict its monthly purchases of Iranian oil to 1.25 million tonnes, or 9 million barrels, during the waiver period from November.

Reporting by Florence Tan in SINGAPORE and Yuka Obayashi in TOKYO; Editing by Sunil Nair

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