EghtesadOnline: Imports of Iranian crude oil by major buyers in Asia tumbled 29% in November from the same month a year ago to the lowest volumes since April 2016, government and ship-tracking data showed.
In total, China, India, Japan and South Korea imported 1.36 million barrels per day last month from Iran, the data showed, Reuters reported.
The drop comes after imports hit highs earlier this year and last when Tehran ramped up exports after the lifting of sanctions that had targeted its nuclear program.
The slowdown had been expected, as oil loadings bound for Asia fell below 1.5 million bpd in October, a person with knowledge of Iran's tanker schedules had told Reuters.
According to Financial Tribune, Tehran is pushing to retain its prized Asian customers, hoping price reductions will boost the appeal of its crude compared with other Middle Eastern grades even as the potential threat of a renewal of US sanctions looms.
China, the biggest buyer, purchased 8.8% less oil from Iran year-on-year, taking around 557,900 bpd.
Meanwhile, India's refiners cut Iranian oil imports by more than half in November, ship tracking data showed, squeezing them to a 21-month low in protest at Tehran's decision to award a giant gas field to a Russian company.
Imports to Japan were down 19% from a year earlier to 193,141 barrels per day, data released by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed on Thursday.
Iran's exports of crude oil and condensate, a type of ultra light crude, have bounced back to the pre-sanctions level of 2.5 million barrels per day.
The country pumps slightly more than 3.8 million barrels per day, according to OPEC's calculations and government data.