Tokyo - Iran's top four crude buyers cut
their purchases by 16 per cent in the first eight months of the year.
Oil shipments set to remain under pressure from sanctions, despite
tentative signs of better relations between Tehran and Washington.
Western sanctions have forced China, India, Japan and South Korea to
reduce their reliance on Iranian oil, more than halving the OPEC
nation's exports since early 2012.
The European Union and the U.S. believe Iran is developing nuclear
weapons, while Iran says its programme is for electricity generation.
On Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan
Rouhani spoke by telephone, the highest-level contact between the two
countries in decades and the culmination of a dramatic shift in tone
that began in August.
"It's still a long way to go in terms of supplies of Iranian oil
really starting to enter the market," said Jonathan Barratt, chief
executive of Sydney-based commodity research firm Barratt's Bulletin.
"You've had (about) 25 years of embargoes and concerns out of the
region and that sort of thing will probably weigh on people's minds and
not be fixed overnight."
The U.S. cut diplomatic relations with Iran a year after the 1979
revolution that toppled U.S. ally, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. and led
to the U.S. hostage crisis in Tehran.
Friday's call between Obama and Rouhani came after earlier remarks by
the new Iranian president, who said he wanted talks with major powers
on Iran's nuclear programme to yield "tangible results" .
Still, any progress between Tehran and Washington towards a new
agreement on Iran's nuclear programme is likely to be slow, difficult