Friday, January 6, 2012

Iran crude oil exports to China outlook january 2012

Iran crude oil exports to China outlook january 2012 : Iran's crude-oil exports to China may fall by almost 40% in January, but this is due to a dispute over pricing and other contract terms between the companies involved, rather than to pressure from international sanctions, a person familiar with Iran's oil sales said Friday.

A prospective sharp drop in exports would come amid U.S. and European efforts to intensify pressure on Iran over its nuclear activities. President Barack Obama signed sanctions against Iran's central bank into law earlier this month, a move that could affect the nation's oil sales, while the European Union has agreed in principle to an embargo on Iranian oil.

Chinese officials have steadfastly defended their relationship with Iran, a major supplier to its energy-hungry economy. Between January and November, China imported 25.3 million metric tons of crude from Iran, equivalent to about 555,000 barrels a day. Imports were up almost 30% from year-earlier levels, customs data show.

On Thursday, China Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the two countries have "regular and transparent cooperation." "This cooperation does not violate any U.N. Security Council resolutions." He declined to discuss specifics between the countries.

China could play a key role in the effectiveness of international sanctions. Roughly one-fifth of Iran's exported oil heads to China, according to Deutsche Bank, making it Iran's No. 1 single export customer. Iran is China's third-largest supplier and Chinese companies are by far the biggest investors in Iran's energy sector.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will visit China and Japan next week to discuss global economic developments, the Treasury Department said Wednesday. Mr. Geithner will ask China and Japan to increase pressure on Iran, including financial measures targeting the Iranian central bank, it said.

China International United Petroleum & Chemicals Co., known as Unipec, is still negotiating over the price of condensate, a light crude that can be used to make premium fuels like kerosene and naphtha, from Iran's South Pars field, said the person familiar with Iran's sales. Other contracts between Iran's national oil company and Chinese buyers have been finalized, the person said.

Unipec and state-backed Zhuhai Zhenrong Co. comprise the bulk of China's crude imports from Iran at about 460,000 barrels a day. Sinopec Corp., the parent company of Unipec, couldn't be immediately reached for comment.

The longer-than-anticipated negotiations delayed the start of Unipec's long-term supply contract, reducing China's Iranian crude imports by about 220,000 barrels a day, the person said. Although Unipec's contract could be finalized as early as next week, further delays could affect February orders as well, the person said.

China's hiccups with Iranian crude supply come as South Korea and Japan weigh the implications of U.S. efforts to toughen sanctions against Iran. Indian national oil companies also are having difficulty routing payments through foreign banks for Iranian crude due to the sanctions. For the latest updates on the stock market, visit Stock Market Today
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