Johannesburg - South Africa suspended all imports of crude
oil from Iran for a fourth month in September, data showed on Wednesday, as
Pretoria continued to steer away from
Iranian shipments because of European insurance sanctions.
In May, imports from Iran stood at 285,524 tonnes, but since
June Africa’s biggest economy has replaced shipments from Iran with crude from
other suppliers, especially Saudi Arabia.
South Africa 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.
The major supplier in September was Saudi Arabia, with shipments
from the Middle East country at 759,643 tonnes. Other crude imports originated
in Angola, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates, with shipments totalling 1.76
Even though the United States granted South Africa an
exemption from financial sanctions after cuts in Iranian imports, Pretoria is
still facing problems because of European Union sanctions preventing insurance
companies from underwriting Iranian shipments.
The EU has not granted any waivers, even though South Africa
has been lobbying Brussels because of the impact on its fuel supplies.
Some South African refineries are designed to treat
Iranian-type crude only, and refiners and the government have said the country
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 [JSE:SOL], and Engen, which is majority-owned by
Malaysian state oil group Petronas.