BEIJING (Commodity Online): Chinese crude oil supplies from Iran seems to be squeezing as the Asian dragon's crude oil imports from its third largest supplier, Iran, shrank by nearly 40% in the first 2 months of 2010 against the corresponding period last year.

Even as the country's economy is thriving and the demand for crude has been rising steadily, the imports have shown a significant fall in the given period.

According to the Chinese customs data China's third biggest foreign supplier of crude oil last year, Iran has slipped to fourth behind Russia in the first 2 months of 2010. Iran shipped 2.53 million tonnes of crude to China with a fall of 37.2% compared to the first 2 months of 2009.

China's crude shipments from its biggest supplier and the world's top exporter, Saudi Arabia, rose 5.4% and those from Angola and Russia rose 71.6% and 50.8% respectively to take second and third place. Iran was the only major crude supplier to China to show a fall in deliveries.

According to market experts, the drop seems to be attributed to the Western powers urging Beijing to approve proposed new United Nations Security Council sanctions against Tehran over its disputed nuclear activities.

However, industry experts do not see any political pressure to cut Iranian imports. The numbers may nonetheless bolster arguments from Washington and other Western capitals that China can reduce crude from Iran without endangering energy security.