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China Petrochemical Corp (Sinopec) and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), the country's top state-owned refiners, are skipping Iranian oil buys for May loadings, after Washington ended sanction waivers to turn up pressure on Tehran, three sources with knowledge of the matter said.
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. The waivers were granted last November to buyers of Iranian oil.
China is Iran's largest oil customer with imports at 475,000 barrels a day in the first quarter of this year, according to Chinese customs data.
Sinopec and CNPC have skipped bookings for cargoes loading in May as companies were worried that taking oil from Iran could invoke U.S. sanctions and cut them out of the global financial system, said two of the sources.