Sinopec resists bargain Iran crude, eyes US ties

BEIJING - Chinese refining giant Sinopec Corp, the biggest buyer of Iranian oil, has no plans to raise its Iranian crude imports for the rest of this year so as to avoid falling foul of tough US sanctions on Tehran's oil trade, a senior Chinese oil executive said.
China is the only one of Iran's four major Asian oil buyers that could still face penalties from the United States once sanctions kick in on June 28. Washington on Monday added India and South Korea to a list of countries, that already includes Japan, exempt from sanctions.
While China made big cuts in first-quarter imports, the US is wary that Beijing might find it difficult to resist a cut-price offer if Iran tries to sell crude it can no longer export to other buyers later this year.
Sinopec has already resisted such offers, said the Beijing-based official who has knowledge of the refiner's trading operations. "The Iranians have made some offers, but we have turned them down," the official said, declining to elaborate.
"The economic benefits of filling some discounted Iranian oil into the national oil reserves would be too small a consideration for the state. The key concern for the Chinese government would be China-US relations."
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