India's imports of Iran oil in Dec scheduled to rise to most since March - source

    * Total Dec crude loadings at 1.92 mln bpd, down 7 pct m/m
    * Top buyer China lifts 608,000 bpd in 2017, followed by

    By Osamu Tsukimori and Florence Tan
    TOKYO, Jan 16 (Reuters) - India was scheduled to lift its
biggest volume of Iranian crude in nine months in December,
helping to shore up the OPEC producer's oil exports to Asia last
month, said a person with knowledge of the country's tanker
loading schedule.
    Asian buyers were scheduled to lift 1.92 million barrels per
day (bpd) of Iranian crude in December, down 7 percent from the
actual loadings in the previous month, the source said.
    India's scheduled crude oil loadings from Iran, excluding
condensate, an ultra-light oil, were about 550,000 bpd last
month, up 78 percent from the previous month and the highest
since March, according to the source.
    That more than offset monthly declines in liftings by three
other major Asian buyers, China, South Korea and Japan. Details
on condensate loadings for December are not yet available.
    Taiwan also loaded Iranian oil last month.
    Iran produces 3.8 million bpd of crude and is the
third-largest producer of the Organization of the Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC). 
    December also marked Petronas'           scheduled first
purchase of Iranian crude since the Malaysian state oil firm
halted Iranian oil imports in 2012 after Western sanctions
targeting Tehran's nuclear programme made it difficult to pay
and ship the oil, according to the person.
    Petronas bought Iranian Heavy crude in a spot deal, two
other sources familiar with the matter said.
    The tanker Patmos Warrior is discharging close to 300,000
barrels of crude at the Malaysian port of Malacca after loading
in Iran, trade flow data on Thomson Reuters Eikon showed.
    Petronas did not respond to a request for comment. The deal
came after Iran offered spot cargoes and reduced official
selling prices for December loading to entice buyers.

    Iran has roughly more than doubled oil exports from a trough
in 2015 after the end of sanctions in January 2016 following an
agreement between the United States, Iran and several European
    But U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to re-impose
the sanctions, saying the agreement was bad deal for the U.S.

    Iran's position is the nuclear deal is not renegotiable.

    The following table shows monthly loadings of crude except
condensate at Iranian ports in 1,000 barrels per day to global
markets and countries, as well as rough percentage changes from
the previous month, according to the source.
                    Asia         Dec         Nov    pct
                   China         518         683    -24
                   India         548         308     78
                   Japan         140         198    -30
             South Korea          87          91     -5
                  Taiwan          65           0    n/a
                Malaysia          16           0    n/a
              Total Asia       1,374       1,280      7
                  Greece          97         103     -6
                   Italy         161         175     -8
                   Spain          97         168    -42
                  Turkey          97         104     -7
                  Other           97         235    -59
            Total Europe         548         784    -30
     Total crude exports       1,922       2,065     -7
 Iran's offshore storage          65         100    -36
 (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori in TOKYO and Florence Tan in
SINGAPORE; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)