BEIJING, Nov 1 (Reuters) – China’s crude oil imports from Iran in September fell sharply from the same month last year, a sign that China has curbed its purchases from the Islamic republic as Washington prepares to re-impose sanctions on Tehran’s oil sector.
Shipments from Iran stood at 2.13 million tonnes in September, or 518,300 barrels per day (bpd), down 34 percent from 3.22 million tonnes last September, data from China’s General Administration of Customs showed.
China’s General Administration of Customs said on its website on Thursday that it was making available to the public monthly data on the nation’s import and export of commodities, including country of origin for imports and country of destination for exports.
The customs office had previously provided such data for a fee but suspended this service in April.
China’s September Iranian arrivals also tumbled from 3.28 million tonnes, or 798,423 bpd, in August, the data showed.
The Chinese customs data confirmed a previous Reuters report that Asian buyers including Japan, China and South Korea had curbed imports in September ahead of the U.S. reimposition of oil sanctions on Tehran on Nov. 5.
Bank of Kunlun Co, the key Chinese conduit for transactions with Iran, is also set to stop handling payments from Tehran under pressure of the renewed sanctions.
Over the first nine months of the year, China’s imports from Iran were at 24.49 million tonnes, still up 4 percent from the same period in 2017, the data showed.
China’s imports from Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), also fell 12 percent to 3.78 million tonnes, or 919,800 bpd, in September.
Demand for top supplier Russian oil was robust at 6.8 million tonnes, or 1.65 million bpd, up from 1.54 million bpd a year ago.