DUBAI/SINGAPORE - China has helped Iran dodge tightening sanctions this year by regularly selling it much-needed gasoline, shipping and trade sources said, but rising tensions could force even some Chinese companies to stop, at least temporarily.
China is the biggest buyer of Iranian crude oil and has condemned US censure of one of its top trading companies for the gasoline trade. Beijing operates free of sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union.
A total of 350,000 tonnes, or around 10 cargoes of gasoline were shipped since the start of the year, shipping and trade sources said. Although an major oil producer, Iran's aging refineries struggle to produce enough fuel and imports are vital to fill the shortfall.
China's state oil traders - Unipec, Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp and Chinaoil - were among the regular gasoline suppliers of Iran, five Gulf-based oil traders said. The companies were not immediately available for comment.
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