Special Report-China’s Iranian Crude Imports on the Rise After Additional Quotas

China’s independent refiners lined up to purchase Iranian crude oil after they were granted additional import quotas for 2021. Total imports in November were 18 million barrels, up by 40% from October. The numbers could drop in the coming months due to broader crackdown on independent refiners and reduced demand caused by virus restrictions.

China’s independent refiners were given additional import allocations in mid-October, and they used it on imports from Russia’s Eastern Siberia Pacific Ocean (ESPO) oil pipeline as well as Iranian crude stored off the coasts of China, Singapore and Malaysia.

The buying spree dropped the overall volume stored at sea to its lowest level since September. More than half of the oil stored off shore is estimated to be from Iran and Venezuela.

Despite reports, China claims it has not taken Iranian oil since December 2020. Iranian supplies are often re-branded as Malaysian or Omani.

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