BEIJING - A Chinese tanker loaded crude in Iran in March, according to shipping data and an industry official, the first time a China-flagged ship has transported Iranian crude since EU sanctions imposed last July stopped insurers covering the shipments.
The United States and Europe imposed tough sanctions in 2012 that aim to choke Iran's oil revenue and force the Islamic Republic to halt its disputed nuclear program.
Unable to find insurance for its own vessels because of the sanctions, China has relied mainly on the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) to ship Iran's crude to Chinese refineries over the past nine months.
If China has put in place a system of insurance for its own vessels allowing them to participate in the trade again, the country's refineries could boost imports. China is Iran's largest trade partner and biggest oil client, buying around 440,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2012.
The Chinese-owned supertanker Yuan Yang Hu, with capacity to carry 2 million barrels of crude, called at Iran's Kharg Island on March 20-21 and is en route to China, shipping tracking data showed.