[Debate] S.Africa Iranian oil imports soar in Feb, "dashing the view that Pretoria has bowed to U.S. pressure"
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Mon Apr 2 19:22:43 BST 2012
S.Africa Iranian oil imports soar in Feb
Mon Apr 2, 2012 9:31am GMT
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African crude oil imports from Iran
leapt in February to $364 million from zero the preceding month,
customs data showed on Monday, dashing the view that Pretoria has
bowed to U.S. pressure to curb commercial links with Tehran.
The Revenue Service said Africa's biggest economy imported 417,000
tonnes of Iranian crude in February, a dramatic reversal of a
declining trend seen since October, when it imported 467,000 tonnes.
South Africa has come under Western pressure to cut Iranian crude
imports as part of sanctions designed to halt Tehran's suspected
pursuit of nuclear weapons, although it has been unclear how
diplomatically non-aligned Pretoria is responding.
Senior energy and foreign ministry officials directly contradicted
each other last month as to the status of Iranian imports.
However, January trade and customs data showed Iranian crude imports
at zero compared with a monthly average of $280 million last year.
Iran has been South Africa's biggest crude supplier, accounting for a
quarter of its oil imports.
The biggest South African buyer of Iranian crude is Engen,
majority-owned by Malaysian national oil company Petronas . Engen has
not commented, but a Petronas source told Reuters last month Engen had
stopped buying Iranian oil from March.
Petrochemicals group Sasol, which took 12,000 barrels of Iranian oil a
day, says its has already found new suppliers but has not named them.
In January, trade figures showed a spike in imports from Saudi Arabia,
Qatar and Ecuador, suggesting they were being used as alternative
suppliers to Iran.
In February, Saudi Arabia was South Africa's biggest supplier, with
582,000 tonnes of crude, followed by Iran, Nigeria, Angola an Ecuador.
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