Oil Report

Asian imports of Iranian oil hit 5-month high

    * Asia imports 1.64 mln bpd in Aug, down 10.8 pct yr/yr
    * China monthly imports highest since 2006
    * India imports hit 18-month low in retaliation to Iran
    * Korean imports hit 5-month high
    * Japan imports tumble 54.4 pct yr/yr

    By Osamu Tsukimori
    TOKYO, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Imports of Iranian crude by major
buyers in Asia rose for a second month in a row in August to hit
their highest level since March, helped by a spike in purchases
by China and South Korea.
    However, imports by Asia's four main buyers remained below
year ago levels for a fourth month in a row, the first time this
has happened since Western sanctions against Tehran were lifted
in January last year, leading to a surge in shipments.
    China, India, South Korea and Japan together imported 1.64
million barrels per day (bpd) last month, down 10.8 percent on a
year ago, government and ship-tracking data showed.
    Iran aims to maintain crude oil and condensate exports at
around 2.6 million bpd for the rest of 2017 although recent
maintenance, depleted oil storage and a growing domestic
appetite will limit shipments abroad, a senior official at the
national state oil company said on Monday.
    Chinese imports rose 5.5 percent from a year ago last month
to 786,720 bpd, the highest monthly amount since 2006, according
to data on Reuters Eikon.
    South Korea's imports jumped 46.7 percent to a five-month
high of 407,323 bpd.
    India, however, continued to reduce its intake in
retaliation at Tehran's decision to award a giant gas field to a
Russian company. India imported 335,400 bpd in August, the
lowest level since February 2016, and down about 42 percent from
a year ago.
    Japan's Iranian imports fell for a fourth straight month
from a year ago to 107,357 bpd, the lowest volumes since April,
trade ministry data showed on Friday.
    Iran has been exempted from an agreement by the Organization
of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to reduce output, a
victory for Tehran which has argued it needs to regain the
market share it lost under Western sanctions over its disputed
nuclear programme.
    Iran is aiming to raise oil output to around 4 million bpd
by the end of the year and 4.5 million bpd within five years
from around 3.8 million bpd in recent months.

    The following tables show Asia's Iran crude imports in bpd
for last month and the year to date. 
  Nation       Aug-17       Aug-16  yr/yr pct
   China     786,720      746,029         5.5
   India     335,400      575,900       -41.8
   Japan     107,357      235,612       -54.4
   Korea     407,323      277,613        46.7
   Total   1,636,800    1,835,154       -10.8
  Nation  Jan-Aug 2017   Jan-Aug 2016  yr/yr pct
   China      609,886        614,703        -0.8
   India      497,600        394,700        26.1
   Japan      159,196        216,101       -26.3
   Korea      413,337        269,803        53.2
   Total    1,680,019      1,495,307        12.4

 (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Richard Pullin)