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Saudi Arabia says China has not yet asked for more oil

Beijing

SAUDI Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Thursday that China has "not yet" asked for more crude oil after the United States decided to end sanction waivers on Iranian oil imports that had permitted Beijing to keep buying from Tehran.

The United States re-imposed sanctions against Iran's oil exports last November, but Washington initially allowed the eight biggest buyers of Iranian oil - China is No. 1 - to keep purchasing limited imports for six months ending April.

Mr Khalid spoke briefly on the sidelines of a visit to Beijing for a summit on China's Belt and Road economic development initiative. Beijing has criticised the US move to re-impose Iran oil sanctions.

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US officials, speaking during a separate media call earlier on Thursday, said they were confident China would be able to find alternative supplies to Iran.

Asked if other Asian buyers had asked for more crude oil, Mr Khalid said: "In the beginning of May, we will find out demand for June and will be responsive."

Saudi Arabia's April crude oil production was nearly steady in previous months and will be in the 9.8 million barrels per day (bpd) range or "maybe lower", he said.

Before the reimposition of sanctions, Iran was one of the biggest producers among Opec members at close to four million bpd. Iran's oil exports have now dropped to about one million bpd. REUTERS