Asian imports of Iranian oil in April rose by more than 13 percent from a year ago as Tehran vies to recoup market share lost under international sanctions, with shipments into India and South Korea offsetting a big slump in purchases by Japan.
The figures are in line with loading data obtained earlier by Reuters and confirm that Iran is regaining market share faster than expected after sanctions were lifted in January.
April imports by Iran’s biggest buyers would have been higher had Japan not halted loadings in March over shipping insurance concerns that have since been resolved.
Japan on Tuesday announced its official oil import figures for April, following data earlier from China, India and South Korea.
Iran’s biggest oil clients together imported 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) last month, according to official government and tanker-tracking data.
Iran’s total oil exports to Asia are set to surge nearly 60 percent in May from a year earlier to 2.3 million barrels per day (bpd).
For several years before 2012, Iran exported around 2.5 million bpd, with more than half going to Asia, mainly China, South Korea, India and Japan.
Keeping the upward momentum on exports may be challenging for Iran as Middle Eastern rivals are also vying for market share as crude prices have surged in recent weeks.
Iraq will supply 5 million barrels of extra crude in June to raise market share ahead of an OPEC meeting this week, industry sources said this week.
Top exporter Saudi Arabia is also offering extra crude as its rivalry with Iran shifts to oil markets.
China imports from Iran fell more than 5 percent to just over 670,000 bpd in April, while India’s surged nearly 50 percent to around 390,000 bpd.
South Korea’s imports rose nearly 90 percent to 237,000 bpd. Japan’s shipments fell 72 percent to less than 20,000 bpd.
The following tables show Asia’s Iran crude imports in bpd for last month and the year to date.