TEHRAN: A senior Iranian oil official denied on Monday that the Islamic Republic’s crude sales to China and Japan had declined during the first few months of 2010, the ISNA news agency reported on Monday.
"There is no change in our crude sale to these countries," said Deputy Iranian Oil Minister Hossein Noghrehkar-Shirazi.
In March, industry sources in Tokyo said Japan’s imports of Iranian crude oil in 2010 looked set to fall to the lowest level in 17 years, as lower consumption, high prices, and political pressure weaken demand from Iran.
In the first two months of 2010, China’s imports of Iranian crude oil slipped by nearly 40 percent compared with the same period last year, Chinese customs data showed. But in March, those imports from Iran picked up again, growing 14.7 percent compared to March last year.
Noghrehkar-Shirazi, who handles international affairs at the ministry, said there was "no change in the trend" of oil sales to China and Japan during the January-April period compared with the same months last year. He did not give details and it was not clear what statistics he was referring to.
The United States, Britain, Germany and France are negotiating with Russia and China on a possible fourth round of UN sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.
The West accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear bombs. Iran says its atomic activities are solely aimed at generating electricity so that it can export more of its gas and oil.