Turkey seeking US waiver on Iran oil
China's Iran crude imports hit seven-month high
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh on Friday said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates exaggerate their oil production capacities.
The comments were in reaction to expectations the two countries would fill any supply gap caused by a tightening of US sanctions on Iran.
Last year, the United States announced sanctions against buyers of Iranian oil, granting eight countries waivers for six months. It said on Monday it will not renew those waivers and demanded that buyers stop purchases by May 1 or face sanctions.
President Donald Trump said earlier this week that he was confident Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates would fill any gap left in the oil market.
“The US behavior and oil sanctions are not a bluff, but (the result of) very violent hostility toward the Iranian nation,” Zanganeh said.
“I believe they (Saudi Arabia and the UAE) are overstating their oil capacities,” Zanganeh said.
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said on Wednesday he saw no need to raise oil output immediately after the United States ends its waivers, but added that the kingdom would respond to customers’ needs if asked for more oil.
The kingdom’s exports in April will be below seven million barrels per day, while production is around 9.8 million bpd, Saudi officials have said. Under the OPEC-led deal on supply cuts, Saudi Arabia can pump up to 10.3 million bpd.
“There’s roughly a million barrels per day of Iranian crude (exports) left, and there is plenty of supply in the market to ease that transition and maintain stable prices,” Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran, said on Thursday.
Blow to regional trade
Turkey, one of the eight recipients of waivers on Iran oil sanctions, said is trying to convince the United States to allow refiner Tupras, its biggest oil importer, to continue buying crude oil from Iran free of sanctions.
Iran is one of the biggest oil suppliers for Turkey, which is almost completely reliant on imports to meet its energy needs.
The US decision damages regional cooperation and Turkey’s trade relations, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said during a press conference on Friday.
“Tupras is following the subject closely. The characteristics of their refineries are suitable for Iranian oil. We are trying to convince the US,” he said, responding to a question about whether the refiner will continue buying crude oil from Iran.
China oil purchase
China's crude oil imports from Iran hit a seven-month high in March of 2.3 million mt, or 543,367 bpd, before the expiry of its waiver on US sanctions against Iran, the latest data from the General Administration of Customs showed.
The highest previous monthly level was 3.28 million mt, recorded in August.
The March volume rose 6.2 percent from February on a barrels-per-day basis, despite dropping by a quarter from the same month of last year.
China did not import US-origin crude oil in March after taking its first cargo since December in February, which was 85,841 mt.
But the inflow is expected to rebound significantly in April as refiners from both the state-run and independent sectors have US crude arrivals coming.
During January-March, China imported 5.84 million bpd of crude from OPEC, up 17 percent year on year to expand its market share by almost 5 percentage points to 59.2 percent.
Reuters and S&P Global contributed to this story.