An employee walks past oil tanks at a Sinopec refinery in Wuhan, Hubei province April 25, 2012.
The United States has decided not to renew any exemptions for sanctions on Iran, taking a tougher line than expected on the expiry of the waivers. Tensions in the oil-rich Gulf intensified as the USA sent an aircraft carrier strike group to the region and Iran threatened to resume uranium enrichment beyond agreed limits.
China, the world's biggest oil importer, took in 164.9 million tons of crude during the first four months of 2019, or about 10.03 million bpd, up 8.9 percent on the same period a year earlier, according to data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs.
But with the US this month, tightening its sanctions on crude exports from Iran by allowing waivers to eight countries to expire, all eyes will be on Saudi Arabia and how it manages its production going forward.
Until May, Washington allowed a few countries to buy oil from Iran, which kept the crude oil supplies balanced.
All of the people with knowledge of the matter requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the topic. A fifth tanker is heading to Shuidong in southern Guangdong province.
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The sources declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak with media. The comments dragged on both Asian and U.S. stock markets. The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) did not immediately respond to an email from Reuters seeking comment.
The United States reimposed sanctions on Iran in November after pulling out of a 2015 nuclear accord between Tehran and world powers previous year.
The trade flare-up "raises a number of questions in terms of the economic outlook and therefore in terms of oil and demand, " Harry Tchilinguirian, head commodity markets strategist at BNP Paribas in London, said by telephone.
Washington, aiming to cut Iran's sales to zero, said in April all sanctions waivers for those importing Iranian oil would end at the beginning of May.
"It's why OPEC is being a bit stingy with barrels", Kilduff said, referring to output cuts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russian Federation.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies led by Russian Federation, a group known as OPEC+, agreed to reduce output by 1.2 million bpd for six month.