TOKYO - Imports of Iranian crude by major buyers in Asia rose in September for a third straight month to their highest since March, boosted by a surge in purchases in China and South Korea.
China, India, South Korea and Japan imported slightly more than 1.9 million barrels per day (bpd) last month, up 5.1 percent from a year earlier, government and ship-tracking data showed. Their imports rose nearly 20 percent from August.
Still, purchases from the Asian buyers remain below highs that were hit earlier this year and last year as Tehran ramped up exports following the lifting of economic sanctions, after it had agreed to constraints on its disputed nuclear programme.
Imports by the Asian buyers, which take the bulk of Iran's oil exports, are likely to fall in coming weeks as shipments bound for the region have dropped below 1.5 million bpd for October, a person with knowledge of the Middle Eastern nation's tanker loading schedules told Reuters.
Chinese imports from Iran in September rose nearly 60 percent from a year ago to about 784,000 bpd, down from August when China imported the highest monthly amount since 2006, according to data on Reuters Eikon.
South Korea's imports rose by nearly a quarter to just over 504,000 bpd, a five-month high. India's imports fell by a third to 415,400 bpd.
Imports to Japan, which announced official figures on Tuesday, were down by more than 30 percent at a bit less than 216,000 bpd.