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ASIA'S IRAN OIL IMPORTS DROP SLIGHTLY IN JULY.

Iran's top four oil clients slightly reduced imports from the sanction-hit nation in July and purchases remain down about a fifth for the year, as the United States keeps pressuring buyers to take less and less of the crude.

Asia may start to feel pinched, however, from the already deep cuts in the Iranian imports as the supply outlook for some of the alternative grades worsens. Asian refiners need to ramp up runs to meet peak winter demand and further cuts in shipments from Iran could increase input costs.

Crude premiums in Asia are already at multi-month highs, slashing the profit from processing a barrel of crude into fuels nearly two-thirds from a month earlier. Buyers are also on edge, worried a strike against Syria could disrupt supplies from key Middle Eastern exporters and boost prices even higher.

Oil shipments from Iran have more than halved from pre-sanction levels as the US and EU sanctions have made it difficult to insure tankers carrying the crude. The measures have also forced refiners to find new ways to pay Tehran, because it is cut off from international banking networks.

Iran's clients have had to switch to other suppliers such as nearby Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.

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Publication:Pakistan & Gulf Economist
Geographic Code:90ASI
Date:Sep 8, 2013
Words:205
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