Tue Jan 31, 2017 12:56PM
Iran more than doubles its oil export to Asian buyers.
Iran more than doubles its oil export to Asian buyers.

New official data show top four Asian buyers of Iran’s crude oil more than doubled their imports from the country in December compared with the same month a year earlier, for the third straight month.  

The date from governments and ship-racking services also said the buyers –China, India, South Korea and Japan- imported 1.89mn barrels per day last month.

According to data by International Energy Agency, in absolute terms, imports slipped for a second consecutive month, from a peak of just under 2mn bpd in October, which was the highest since at least 2010.

Iran was exempted from an OPEC deal in January to reduce output by 1.2mn bpd, a boon for the country which had argued it needs to regain the market share it lost under Western sanctions targeting its nuclear program.

During the first full year since the sanctions were lifted, Iran has boosted exports to its biggest Asian customers by nearly 60 percent to 1.63mn bpd.

Europe represents Iran's biggest post-sanctions recapture of the lost market, where the continent currently receives more than 700,000 barrels per day of Iranian crude oil.  US-based oilfield services company Schlumberger signed last year an initial deal with an Iranian oil company for data-sharing. European energy companies like Austria's OMV and France’s Total also signed memorandums of understanding of their own.

Trade data released by Japan's Ministry of Finance on Monday showed Iran's crude oil imports cost Japan an average $43.87 a barrel for December, the third cheapest after Ecuador and Columbia.

Japan's Trade Ministry announced on Tuesday its imports jumped more than 40 percent from a year earlier to 246,243 bpd last month.

China's imports rose 30 percent to 689,530 bpd, meaning the country regained top spot among consumers after buying less than India for three consecutive months.

India's imports grew to 546,600 bpd, while South Korea's purchases rocketed to 410,387 bpd.

Reports say Iran's total monthly oil exports are set to climb slightly in February from January, as Indonesia takes its first shipment since sanctions were lifted.