May 01, 2023 | cjungman
On April 21, Reuters reported that Chinese authorities were conducting more rigorous customs checks on Iranian oil imports entering the northeast province of Shandong, causing delays “after several Iranian [crude oil] cargos were [falsely] declared as bitumen….” As a consequence, 9.6 million barrels are now awaiting customs clearance for entry. As UANI first noted twelve months ago in its regularly updated “Uncovering the Chinese Purchasers” resource, Shandong accounts for one-fifth of total Chinese oil imports and is the hub of almost all the major ‘teapot’ refineries that are actually taking Iranian deliveries.
Since China is essentially indifferent to the origin of its oil supply, this partial clampdown on Iranian oil has nothing to do with a new-found respect for U.S. sanctions. Rather the impulse is purely economic: Beijing receives higher tax revenues from crude oil rather than bitumen, and higher still for Iranian crude. In particular, Malaysian blends – to which Iranian oil is often rebranded – are subject to lower import taxes (and see below).