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SA cuts all Iran crude imports

Jul 31 2012 14:40 Reuters

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Johannesburg - South Africa imported no crude oil from Iran in June, customs data showed on Tuesday, a sign Pretoria may be cutting all Iranian shipments to avoid US and European sanctions.

In May, imports from Iran stood at 285,524 tonnes.

Africa’s biggest economy used to import a quarter of its crude from Iran but has come under Western pressure to cut the shipments as part of sanctions designed to halt Tehran’s suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons.

June imports of crude from Saudi Arabia more than doubled to 1.17 million tonnes from the previous month, with other supplies coming from Nigeria, Ecuador and Angola. Total imports stood at 1.95 million tonnes.

Even though the United States granted South Africa an exemption from financial sanctions after cuts in Iranian imports in recent months, Pretoria was still facing problems because of sanctions from the European Union, which does not provide any waivers.

Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said earlier this month that South Africa was also talking to Tehran about the prospect for Iran to insure its crude oil cargoes, which can no longer be underwritten by European insurance firms due to sanctions.

It is to be seen whether South Africa will continue to keep imports from Iran at zero. The country already cut all shipments from that country in January this year but resumed them again the following month.

The United States will also be watching to see if South Africa continues to keep imports from Iran at bay.

When comparing monthly averages over a six-month period, South Africa imported around 249,115 tonnes of crude from Iran per month in the January to June period, compared with 403,171 tonnes in the preceding six months.

Some South African refineries are designed to treat Iranian-type crude only, and analysts say they will be hard-pressed to replace those supplies with other products.

Any disruption to crude imports could hit fuel supplies in South Africa, which has suffered shortages in the last year because of strikes and refinery problems.

Refiners in South Africa include Shell, BP, Total, Chevron, petrochemicals group Sasol, and Engen, which is majority-owned by Malaysian state oil group Petronas.

 
iran  |  oil imports
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