China May Iranian crude oil imports total 2.22 mil mt, up 39%

Posted on June 22, 2012


China’s crude oil imports from Iran in May returned to year-ago levels following a significant drop in the first four months of the year, rising nearly 39% month on month to 2.22 million mt (524,100 b/d), according to official customs data received by Platts Friday.

The May volumes were just 2.3% down from the same period last year.

China’s crude imports from Iran had fallen by 31% on year from January to April to 5.9 million mt following disagreements over price in term contract renewals in the first quarter.

Pricing terms between the National Iranian Oil Corp. and Sinopec’s trading arm Unipec had reportedly been ironed out in February, which would have reinstated March-loading cargoes, with the volumes showing up in the May data.

China’s total crude oil imports in May rose 18.2% year on year to a record 25.48 million mt (6.02 million b/d). The volumes were also up 14.5% from April’s 22.26 million mt.

Saudi Arabia remained the top supplier to China last month, with volumes rising 12.4% year on year to 4.39 million mt, but still below the record 5.5 million mt seen in February.

Crude imports from Angola rose 40% on year to 3.93 million mt, the highest volumes since September 2010, when imports from the country hit 4 million mt. Venezuelan imports were also significantly higher, up over 80% on year to 1.58 million mt.

However, Kazakh imports fell by over 21% year on year to 745,763 mt and Brazilian cargoes dipped by 34.6% on year to 526,964 mt.

Imports from the Bahamas showed up for the first time in May, with volumes totaling 112,736 mt. China also imported crude from Zaire for the second consecutive month, with volumes in May at 124,387 mt, up slightly from 120,182 mt in April.

The Middle East accounted for 13.24 million mt of China’s crude imports last month, versus 10.66 million mt in May 2011.

African volumes rose slightly from 5.52 million mt a year ago to 5.86 million mt last month, while South America contributed 3.06 million mt, up 60% year on year. Asia Pacific volumes totaled 678,507 mt, up from nearly 642,000 mt in May last year.

In the first five months of the year, China’s total crude oil imports were up 11.1% on year to 118.34 million mt, or an average 5.71 million b/d. Saudi Arabia, Angola and Russia were the top suppliers, with imports rising significantly. Iran’s overall volumes fell 25% year on year to 8.12 million mt in the first five months of the year.

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