News / Asia

Chinese Tanker Loads Iranian Oil

A Chinese national flag flies in front of COSCO's headquarters in Beijing, August 26, 2010.
A Chinese national flag flies in front of COSCO's headquarters in Beijing, August 26, 2010.
Reuters
A Chinese tanker loaded crude in Iran in March, according to shipping data and an industry official, the first time a China-flagged ship, has transported Iranian crude since EU sanctions imposed last July stopped insurers covering the shipments.

The United States and Europe imposed tough sanctions in 2012 that aim to choke Iran's oil revenue and force the Islamic Republic to halt its disputed nuclear program.

Unable to find insurance for its own vessels because of the sanctions, China has relied mainly on the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) to ship Iran's crude to Chinese refineries over the past nine months.

If China has put in place a system of insurance for its own vessels allowing them to participate in the trade again, the country's refineries could boost imports. China is Iran's largest trade partner and biggest oil client, buying around 440,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2012.

The Chinese-owned supertanker Yuan Yang Hu, with capacity to carry 2 million barrels of crude, called at Iran's Kharg Island on March 20-21 and is en route to China, shipping tracking data showed.

The vessel is owned by Dalian Ocean, a subsidiary of state shipping giant China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company (COSCO).

An official at COSCO's general manager's office said she was unaware of the matter and the company's press official was not available for comment.

The insurance arrangements for the voyage are unclear.  Norwegian marine and energy insurance group Skuld includes the Yuan Yang Hu on the lists of vessels it covers, detailed on its website. Skuld could not be immediately reached for comment.

An industry official with knowledge of the shipment told Reuters that the tanker's insurance and reinsurance had been arranged in China. He was unable to provide more details.

"This is the first Chinese vessel [since the ban]... as one of the lifters got special approval from the authorities to lift Iranian oil on a trial basis,'' said the official, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.  "Insurance is also handled by the Chinese side.''

Iran's fleet has struggled to deliver oil to its biggest buyers China, India and South Korea, all of whom had to switch to Iranian vessels for delivery after the EU sanctions came into place.

China's Iranian imports fell 21 percent in 2012 from 2011 to 440,000 bpd partly due to shipping problems. The fall meant China qualified for an exemption to U.S. sanctions, which require buyers of Iranian crude to continually reduce imports.

Beijing has repeatedly stated its opposition to unilateral sanctions outside of the United Nations, such as those imposed by the United States. But it qualified for an exemption anyway, after the shipping delays and a contract dispute led to the sharp fall in imports.

COSCO's chairman Wei Jiafu told Reuters last July, just weeks after the European insurance ban took effect, that the Chinese government could follow Japan's example and provide insurance for Chinese tankers.

Japan found a way around the EU ban last year when the
government stepped in to provide $7.6 billion in coverage to tankers carrying Iranian crude bound for Japanese ports.
Insurance companies use reinsurers to hedge their risk, and
 the reinsurance market is mostly based in Europe. The EU sanctions prevent those reinsurers from participating in transactions that facilitate Iranian crude exports.

The same problem has also arisen in India for refiners
 seeking insurance for plants that process Iranian crude.

China largest refiner Sinopec processes nearly all the
 Iranian crude imported into the country, which is shipped in by Sinopec's trading arm Unipec and state trader Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp.

Even without any new arrangement on insurance, oil traders
have said deliveries have, since late 2012, "improved significantly'' after NITC deployed old tankers and also took delivery of several new vessels from Chinese shipyards.

In the first two months of 2013, China imported about
 410,000 bpd of Iranian crude, 3 percent more than a year earlier, according to Chinese customs data.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More