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Asia's Feb imports of Iran oil hit 2-year high

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Asian imports of Iranian oil jumped nearly a quarter from a year earlier to a two-year high in February, as shipments into India and South Korea roughly doubled weeks after international sanctions were lifted on Tehran's disputed nuclear programme.

[TOKYO] Asian imports of Iranian oil jumped nearly a quarter from a year earlier to a two-year high in February, as shipments into India and South Korea roughly doubled weeks after international sanctions were lifted on Tehran's disputed nuclear programme.

International oil and shipping companies have been eager to renew business with Iran since sanctions related to its nuclear programme were lifted in January. Tehran's exports may also get further support as progress has been made on reinsurance issues that had been hampering its oil trade.

Aside from the greater volumes taken by Asian buyers, Iran's oil flows to Europe have also begun to pick up after a slow start. An Iranian official said last week that exports had risen by 900,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 2.2 million bpd in the past two months.

Imports by Iran's top four buyers - China, India, Japan and South Korea - came to 1.28 million bpd in February, up 24.6 per cent from a year ago, government and tanker-tracking data shows. That was the highest volume taken by Tehran's four biggest oil clients since they bought 1.37 million bpd in February 2014.

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Iran has been seeking to ramp up exports to regain market share and help boost an economy that stagnated under the restrictions related to its nuclear programme.

The sanctions kept Iran's exports at around 1 million bpd - down from an average 2.5 million bpd in 2011 - and have been credited with forcing Tehran to the negotiating table over its disputed nuclear activities.

India's imports last month grew 111.1 per cent to 215,800 bpd, the most since December. South Korea's imports hit a two-year high of 282,000 bpd. Imports by China and Japan were mostly steady from a year earlier.

REUTERS

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