By BENOIT FAUCON
India has boosted its imports of Iranian oil, becoming the
Islamic Republic's largest customer last month and largely
offsetting a cut in Chinese purchases as sanctions fail to dent
Tehran's sales for now, people within the oil industry said
"India scooped much of the crude the
Chinese didn't want," one person said.
Iranian crude exports to India rose to 550,000 bpd in
January, up 37.5% from December, the person said.
That partly offset a 50% cut in crude exports to China - now
at about 250,000 bpd - amid a pricing dispute.
Based on preliminary figures, overall Iranian crude exports
remained broadly unchanged at 2.10 million bpd, compared with
2.14 million bpd in December, amid easing seasonal demand in
the first half of the year.
The news come despite the West's ratcheting up of pressure on
the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.
The European Union has agreed on an oil embargo from July 1,
and the US has pressured Asian and African nations to reduce
their Iranian oil imports.
But sanctions haven't deterred India so far from buying more
In recent days, it has agreed to pay 45% of its Iranian oil
purchases in rupees to overcome risks its banking transfers may
Despite a pledge to find alternatives, South Africa also
doubled its Iranian oil imports to 100,000 bpd, a person
familiar with the situation said.
Indian and South African officials declined to comment.
Shipments to Europe - which include both the EU and Turkey -
stood at 700,000 bpd, according to the person.
But based on preliminary figures, direct deliveries - outside
the Suezmed pipeline - to Greece fell by 25,000 bpd to 85,000
bpd, the person said.
Dow Jones Newswires