April 7, 2013 / 11:01 PM / 7 years ago

RPT-Iran crude exports to rebound in April from March slump

(Repeats item issued late on Friday, with no changes to text)
    * Exports rebound to 1.08 mln bpd from 810,000 bpd in March
    * South Korea boosts imports after refinery maintenance
    * India imports in doubt due to refinery insurance issue

    By Osamu Tsukimori and Florence Tan
    TOKYO/SINGAPORE, April 5 (Reuters) - Iran's April crude
exports will rebound to above 1 million barrels per day (bpd),
industry sources said on Friday, after falling in March to the
lowest level seen since the West imposed sanctions to reduce the
oil flow in 2012.
    U.S. and European Union sanctions aimed at choking the flow
of oil money into Iran and forcing Tehran to negotiate curbing
its disputed nuclear programme have cut around a million barrels
per day from Iran's crude exports.
    Iran is expected to export 1.08 million barrels per day
(bpd) of crude in April, preliminary data obtained by Reuters
showed, up from the 810,000 bpd that was scheduled to load in
March and close to export levels of around 1.1 million bpd in
February. The volumes are based on preliminary loading plans and
final export volumes may vary. 
    Asian refiners buy the bulk of Iran's reduced export volumes
and have steered clear of U.S. sanctions by steadily reducing
imports. Despite the rise in April loadings, Iranian oil exports
will still be down 36 percent on the year. Exports will likely
drop further this year as buyers reduce imports as required by
U.S. sanctions. 
    "Given that U.S. sanctions are likely to tighten further,
exports from Iran are not going to be rising," said Victor Shum,
oil consultant at IHS in Singapore. "I don't expect this rebound
(in Iranian oil exports) to be sustained."    
    The biggest month-on-month jump is from South Korea, which
will triple imports in April to about 190,000 bpd as refiner SK
Energy returns to contracted Iranian import volumes after
shutting down a refinery for maintenance, a company source said.
    Japan will also increase imports in April from March as some
refining units are due to restart by late May after maintenance.
Its April volumes will likely more than double from the same
month a year ago when uncertainty over sanctions caused imports
to plunge. 
    China, Iran's top customer, is expected to lift 415,000 bpd
of crude in April, up from 379,000 bpd in the previous month.
Taiwan will resume Iranian oil imports for the first time this
    Indian refiners Indian Oil Corp and Essar Oil
 are scheduled to lift 3.7 million barrels or 123,000
bpd of crude in April, the data showed, but it is unclear what
they will actually buy after insurance companies said they could
not cover plants using Iranian oil.
    The other two Iranian crude buyers in India, Mangalore
Refinery and Petrochemicals and Hindustan Petroleum
Corp, have said they will import none this month while
they wait for clarification from the Indian government on how
they can insure their refineries if they run Iranian crude.
    Iran 2013 crude exports (units:1000 bpd)
 Country       April     March     February
 China         415       379       354
 South Korea   190       60        143
 Japan         179       148       184
 India         123       117       279
 Turkey        110       107       118
 Taiwan        67        0         0
 Source: trade

 (Additional reporting by Cho Meeyoung; Editing by Simon Webb
and Tom Hogue)
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