Tehran, Beijing to talk for cutting dollar from oil trade

Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 8 / Trend F.Milad/

Iran and China will start talks within the next few days aiming to remove the dollar from bilateral oil trade, as China is facing problems on the method of paying for Iranian crude oil imports after European Union imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic's oil industry and banking system, Mehr news agency reported on Wednesday.

The European Union formally imposed an oil embargo on Iran and agreed to a freeze on the assets of the Central Bank of Iran on January 23, but existing contracts will be honored until July 1.

China's crude-oil imports from Iran last year were up 30 percent from 2010, to 27.76 million metric tons, according to China's General Administration of Customs. That works out to about 557,000 barrels a day.

Beijing has steadfastly defended its relationship with Iran, the No. 3 supplier of crude to its energy-hungry economy, as the U.S. and Europe try to increase pressure on Iran over its nuclear activities.

In the first half of 2011, China was the largest importer of Iranian crude, followed by Japan, India, South Korea and Italy, according to data from the U.S. Energy Department.

China is the top buyer of Iranian oil, taking around 20 percent of its total exports, but since January it has cut purchases by around 285,000 barrels per day (bpd), or just over half of the total daily amount it imported in 2011.

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