Oil report

Asia's March Iran oil imports surge 50 pct as it regains markets

* Asian imports of Iran oil at 1.56 mln bpd last month
    * Imports by India top 500,000 bpd, highest in five years
    * South Korean imports nearly double yr/yr
    * Iran struggles to find enough ships for oil exports

    By Osamu Tsukimori
    TOKYO, April 28 (Reuters) - Asian imports of Iranian oil in
March jumped 50 percent from a year earlier as shipments into
India and South Korea have climbed since international sanctions
were lifted on Iran's disputed nuclear programme.
    The strong exports point to Iran's success in regaining
market share in Asia after the sanctions were eased in January.
    Before 2012, Iran exported around 2 million bpd, with more
than half going to Asia, mainly China, South Korea, India and
Japan. Tehran has been banned from selling oil to the United
States for decades.
    Iran's oil flows to Europe have also begun to pick up after
a slow start though the country has struggled to increase oil
exports because many of its tankers are tied up storing crude,
some are not seaworthy, and foreign ship owners remain reluctant
to carry its cargoes. 
    Imports by Iran's top four buyers - China, India, Japan and
South Korea - came to 1.56 million bpd in March, up 49.9 percent
from a year ago, government and tanker-tracking data shows. 
    India's imports last month totalled 506,100 bpd, the highest
in five years, the data showed. The nation's imports from Iran
are set to surge to a seven-year high during the fiscal year of
2016/17, industry sources said. 
    South Korea's imports in March fell slightly from a two-year
high in February to 264,452 bpd but were still 94.5 percent
higher than a year ago. Imports by China and Japan fell from a
year ago.
    The following tables show Asia's Iran crude imports in bpd
for last month and the year to date.
 Nation      Mar-16       Mar-15  yr/yr pct
  China    590,830      638,600            
  India    506,100          -           n/a
  Japan    198,355      266,144       -25.5
  Korea    264,452      135,935            
  Total  1,559,737    1,040,679        49.9
 Nation  Jan-Mar 2016  Jan-Mar 2015  yr/yr pct
  China      511,757       547,110            
  India      299,200       126,000            
  Japan      209,871       227,990        -7.9
  Korea      251,088       113,911            
  Total    1,271,916     1,015,011        25.3
 (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Christian