Iran Asks Chi­nese Oil Buy­ers To Main­tain Im­ports

Iran News - - FRONT PAGE -

BEI­JING (Reuters) - A se­nior of­fi­cial at Iran’s state-owned oil sup­plier met Chi­nese buy­ers this week to ask them to main­tain im­ports af­ter U.S. sanc­tions kick in, three peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said, but failed to se­cure guar­an­tees from the world’s big­gest con­sumer of Ira­nian oil.

The sources told Reuters Saeed Khoshrou, direc­tor of in­ter­na­tional af­fairs at the National Ira­nian Oil Com­pany (NIOC), held sep­a­rate meet­ings in Bei­jing on Mon­day with top ex­ec­u­tives at Chi­nese oil gi­ant Sinopec’s trad­ing unit and state oil trader Zhuhai Zhen­rong Corp to dis­cuss oil sup­plies and seek as­sur­ances from the Chi­nese buy­ers.

Khoshrou was ac­com­pa­ny­ing Iran’s for­eign min­is­ter Javad Zarif in the first stop of a tour of world pow­ers be­fore trav­el­ing on to Europe. Tehran is mount­ing a last­ditch ef­fort to save a 2015 nu­clear deal that Wash­ing­ton has aban­doned, with plans to im­pose uni­lat­eral sanc­tions in­clud­ing strict curbs on Iran’s oil ex­ports.

“Dur­ing the meet­ing, Mr. Khoshrou con­veyed Mr. Zarif’s mes­sage that Iran hopes China will main­tain the lev­els of im­ports,” said one per­son briefed on the meet­ings.

China, the world’s top crude oil buyer, im­ported around 655,000 barrels a day on average from Iran in the first quar­ter of this year, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial Chi­nese cus­toms data - equiv­a­lent to more than a quar­ter of Iran’s to­tal ex­ports. Chi­nese ex­ec­u­tives did not make firm com­mit­ments but said as state oil com­pa­nies they will fall in line with Bei­jing’s wishes, the per­son said. The visit was the NIOC mar­ket­ing chief’s sec­ond to Bei­jing this year he also met with Chi­nese cus­tomers about a month ago.

A sec­ond per­son with di­rect knowl­edge of the dis­cus­sion, said Chi­nese firms “shared the same hope to main­tain pur­chases”, adding com­pa­nies are still as­sess­ing the pos­si­ble im­pact of the new sanc­tions.

The peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter de­clined to be iden­ti­fied be­cause they are not au­tho­rized to speak to me­dia. Sinopec and Zhuhai Zhen­rong de­clined to com­ment. NIOC did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment. Buy­ers in Asia - in­clud­ing China - and Europe have said they will seek waivers from sanc­tions dur­ing a six-month grace pe­riod now in force.

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