South African Crude Imports From Iran Almost Double in March

South Africa imported 3.37 billion rand ($435 million) of crude oil from Iran in March, nearly doubling its purchases from the Middle Eastern nation in the same period last year, according to the country’s tax authority.

South African crude imports totaled 11 billion rand in March, with 30% of shipments coming from Iran, the Pretoria- based South African Revenue Service said in an e-mailed statement today. Nigeria was the biggest supplier in the month with 40 percent. Saudi Arabia accounted for 22 percent and the rest came from Angola.

South Africa imported no crude from Iran in January, and imports totaled 2.8 billion rand in February. Imports amounted to 1.73 billion rand in March last year.

U.S. President Barack Obama signed a law on Dec. 31 that denies foreign banks that do business with the Central Bank of Iran access to that country’s financial system. The U.S. may impose penalties should a country not make “significant” reductions in Iranian crude oil purchases in the first half of this year.

Petroliam Nasional Bhd.’s Engen unit, the biggest South African importer of Iranian crude, said April 4 it suspended imports of oil from the Middle Eastern nation amid economic sanctions by the U.S. and the European Union. Engen will shut its refinery, the nation’s second-biggest, from May 6 to 26, the Department of Energy said last week.

Africa’s biggest economy imported 27 billion rand of crude from Iran last year, comprising 26 percent of total oil imports, it said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jana Marais in Johannesburg at jmarais@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at jviljoen@bloomberg.net

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