China reported the first imports of Iranian crude oil in a year despite ongoing sanctions by the United States government, according to data released by customs on Thursday.
China brought in 260,312 tons of Iranian crude oil in December, according to data from the General Administration of Chinese Customs, which last recorded Iranian oil inflows in December 2020 at 520,000 tons.
It was not immediately clear which company brought in the latest cargo, which is equal to the amount of oil that would fit onto one very large crude carrier (VLCC) tanker, and which terminal it was discharged into.
Unofficially, China's imports of Iranian oil had held above 500,000 barrels per day on average between August and October, as buyers judged that getting crude at cheap prices outweighed the risks of busting US sanctions, Reuters reported in November.
Imports from Iran have accounted for about 6% of China's crude oil imports, according to shipping data and trader estimates.