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Country diversifies oil sources (2)

By Zhou Yan  (China Daily)

10:08, May 02, 2012

Sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States and European countries may take more of a toll on Japan and South Korea than on China, largely because the former two countries rely more on Iranian crude, Han said.

In a ranking of countries that export the most crude to China, Iran has fallen to the eighth place, going from third place in 2011, when the holders of the first two positions were Saudi Arabia and Angola.

The change was the result of China importing more crude last month from Russia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Russia, which exported 2.31 million tons of crude to China in March, replacing Iran as the country's third biggest supplier, recently moved forward in its long-stalled negotiations over a plan to deliver 68 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year to China through pipelines. That progress came during a visit by Vice-Premier Li Keqiang to the country last week.

Analysts expect stronger energy cooperation with Russia will help slake China's thirst for energy and mitigate possible disruptions in the Iranian supply of the resource.

Han said China may consider importing more from the country if certain conditions are met - if, for example, crude prices are lowered.

He also said China's strategic oil inventory will provide relief from supply cuts from Iran, as will big petroleum companies' increasing capacity to hold reserves.

China has completed the first phase of a plan to have the capacity to stockpile an amount of crude oil equal to more than 30 days of its net imports of the resource.

The second phase is now under way and is expected to be completed before the end of 2015, Han said.

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