(Corrects name of Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman in paragraph 10)
By Christopher Johnson
LONDON (Reuters) - Oil prices fell on Monday as U.S. sanctions against Iran's fuel exports were softened by waivers allowing major buyers to import Iranian crude for a while, while Tehran said it would defy Washington and continue to sell.
Both oil price benchmarks have lost more than 15 percent since hitting four-year highs in early October, as hedge funds have cut bullish bets on crude to a one-year low, data show.
Washington imposed sanctions against Iran on Monday, restoring measures lifted under a 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by the administration of former U.S. president Barack Obama, and adding 300 new designations including Iran's oil, shipping, insurance and banking sectors.
Washington has so far not identified the eight. China, India, South Korea, Turkey, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Japan have been the top importers of Iran's oil, while Taiwan also occasionally buys Iranian crude.
South Korea said on Monday it had been granted a waiver, at least temporarily, to import condensate, a super-light form of crude oil, from Iran. It was also allowed to continue financial transactions with the Middle East country, it said.
Oil markets have been anticipating the sanctions for months and the world's biggest producers have been increasing output.
In the Middle East, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co plans to increase its oil production capacity to 4 million bpd by the end of 2020 and to 5 million bpd by 2030, it said on Sunday, from output of just over 3 million bpd.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)