Asian imports of Iranian oil rise nearly 70%

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Tehran (ISNA) - Imports of Iranian crude by Asia's four main buyers of the oil rose about two-thirds in January from a year ago when levels were lower as Western sanctions on Tehran had only just been lifted, Reuters reported.

Iran's top four Asian buyers - China, India, South Korea and Japan - imported 1.64 million barrels per day (bpd) last month, up 67.6 percent on a year earlier, government and ship-tracking data showed.

Iran was exempted from an OPEC deal to reduce output by 1.2 million bpd starting January 1, a victory for Tehran which has argued it needs to regain the market share it lost under Western sanctions over its disputed nuclear program.

Japan's trade ministry on Tuesday released official data showing its imports rose 7.9 percent from a year earlier to 209,319 bpd last month.

India's imports more than tripled to 554,600 bpd, topping China's for the first time since November.

South Korean imports more than doubled to 478,032 bpd, also beating China, to become the second-biggest buyer in Asia.

Iran's total crude and condensate exports for February to global markets including Europe will be just over 2.20 million bpd, up from 2.16 million bpd last month, an industry source familiar with the matter has said.

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