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

Russian Help on Iran Less Promising on Syria, Ukraine

US-Russian collaboration to secure a deal on Iran's nuclear program has raised hopes of closer cooperation on other world issues More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe More

US-Ethiopia Relationship Strong, But Complicated

While Ethiopia serves as a valuable security ally and a bulwark against terrorism - the U.S., is a major aid donor and economic stimulator More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backersi
X
Michael Bowman
July 26, 2015 8:44 PM
Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Underground Streetcar Station In Washington, DC, to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Rise in HIV Infections Worries Ugandan Officials

Uganda had the third-highest number of new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa last year, reversing its reputation for successfully tackling the epidemic in the 1990s. Although the percentage of people living with HIV/AIDS is still half of what it was in the 1980s, the increase in new infections is worrying to health workers. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs