A flood of new Iranian barrels into China is causing global market implications and could displace barrels from other suppliers. As the scale of the flows becomes more and more difficult to hide, the big question is whether or not US President Joe Biden will adopt as firm a line as his predecessor in seeking to stem the tide.

Chinese imports of Iranian crude, condensate and dirty products jumped in the final quarter of 2020 amid the US presidential transition. That momentum is showing no sign of slowing. Data intelligence firm Kpler pegs imports at 627,000 b/d for January and 478,000 b/d for February, and in a 10 March release the firm said it expects volumes to approach 900,000 b/d this month (see chart). This would be the highest monthly figure since April 2019 according to Kpler. For what it’s worth the highest ever crude figure in the official Chinese import stats was 798,000 b/d set back in April 2014; April 2019 was just below this at 787,000 b/d. (CONTINUED - 962 WORDS)