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

Photogallery US to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Expanded Ebola Effort

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Obama is to announce troop deployment, other details of US plans to fight Ebola outbreak More

China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid