Oil imports from Iran surge 75pc

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 March, 2006, 12:00am

Iran replaced Saudi Arabia as the No1 source of oil imports to China in January, even as international pressure on the Islamic republic intensified.

Chinese customs figures showed crude imports from Iran reached 447,300 barrels a day in January, up 75 per cent from a year earlier. Imports from Saudi Arabia rose 39 per cent during the period.

'It's not overly surprising given how much focus the Chinese have been putting on Iran in the last few years, but it does raise more questions about China's oil security and China's position on the ongoing situation with the Security Council and [International Atomic Energy Agency],' said Gavin Thompson, director of energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie in Beijing.

Beijing has been stepping up ties with countries the United States is unwilling to deal with as it encourages its large state firms to scour the world to secure supplies of oil and other natural resources.

China's oil imports exceeded 97 million barrels in January, more than 14 per cent of which came from Iran.