China may raise Iran oil imports with new contract: Sources
BEIJING (Reuters) - China may buy more Iranian oil next year as a state trader is negotiating a new light crude contract that could raise imports from Teheran to levels not seen since tough Western sanctions were imposed in 2012, running the risk of upsetting Washington.
An increase would go against the spirit of November's breakthrough agreement relaxing some of the stringent measures slapped on Iran two years ago over its nuclear programme.
The November deal between Tehran and the group known as P5+1 - made up of the United States and five other global powers - paused efforts to reduce Iran's crude sales but required buyers to hold to "current average amounts" of Iranian oil imports.
That agreement was seen as a reward for a softer diplomatic tone from Teheran that was forced, some US officials and lawmakers say, by U.S. and EU sanctions that slashed Iran's oil exports by more than half to about 1 million barrels per day (bpd) and cost it as much as US$80 billion (S$101 billion) in lost revenue.