SA weans itself off Iran crude
South Africa's crude oil imports from Iran fell 43% to 286072 tons in April from the previous month, data showed yesterday, indicating it could be cutting shipments to avoid looming US sanctions.
South Africa has come under Western pressure to cut Iranian crude imports as part of sanctions designed to halt Teheran's suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons.
The South African Revenue Service said the value of crude imports from Iran fell to R1.798-billion in April from R3.37-billion the previous month.
Until late last year, Iran was South Africa's biggest crude supplier, accounting for a quarter of its oil imports.
Iranian shipments declined between October and January, when they reached zero, but began rising again in February.
South Africa imported a total of 1.2million tons of crude oil in April, SARS data showed. Imports from Saudi Arabia nearly doubled to 671419 tons from 355550 in March, with the remaining 258184 tons coming from Nigeria.
An energy ministry official said this month South Africa was holding almost daily talks with the United States, European Union and Iran about reducing its purchases and was "confident" a deal could be struck to avert US sanctions.
Gwede Mantashe, secretary-general of the ANC, said last week that South Africa had no choice but to comply with Washington's wishes because it could take a heavy hit if it did not comply.
"We will do it because we are a small economy, so I'm sure we'll cut back," Mantashe said.
"But we don't think the political principles are correct and applied consistently."
Some South African refineries are designed to treat Iranian-type crude only and analysts said refiners will be hard-pressed to replace those supplies with other products.