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China’s crude oil imports from Iran fell in May to their lowest levels in four months

BEIJING: China’s crude oil imports from Iran fell in May to their lowest levels in four months, official customs data showed on Tuesday, as overall crude imports dropped during the traditional maintenance season.

China’s imports from Iran were 2.20 million tonnes last month, or 518,400 barrels per day (bpd), down 26.7 percent from April’s 707,400 bpd and down 31.6 percent on the year.

An explosion in early April at Dragon Aromatics, an independent petrochemical producer in eastern China that handles condensate like that exported by Iran, could have contributed to the May drop.

Thomson Reuters Oil Research & Forecasts had put its latest estimate of China’s imports from Iran in May at 593,400 bpd. The group expects volume from Iran to fall in June to 506,100 bpd.

It appears likely that a deal will be clinched to restrict Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief some time around the deadline set for June 30, which would allow Iran to ramp up exports.

Iran, once OPEC’s No.2 producer after Saudi Arabia, hopes to boost crude exports by as much as 1 million bpd if Tehran and six major powers finalize the nuclear agreement.

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