South Korea Triples Imports of Iranian Oil

NITC floating storage (image courtesy NITC)

By Reuters 2016-02-15 20:32:12

 South Korea's imports of Iranian crude oil tripled in January from a year earlier with the United States lifting sanctions on Tehran, but shipments remain far below pre-sanction levels, customs data showed on Monday.

The world's fifth-largest crude importer brought 859,223 tonnes of Iranian crude oil last month, or 203,165 barrels per day (bpd), three times higher than 273,626 tonnes imported a year earlier, the data showed.

That marks the highest imports for January since 2012 when South Korea shipped in 975,967 tonnes, the data showed. The country, along with other major Iranian crude buyers, had to slash Iranian crude imports from mid-2012.

The Islamic Republic on Jan. 17 emerged from years of economic isolation as world powers lifted sanctions after confirming that Tehran had curbed its nuclear programme.

Iran is exporting 1.3 million bpd of crude oil, and will be pumping 1.5 million bpd by the start of the next Iranian year on March 20, a vice-president Eshaq Jahangiri was quoted as saying on Saturday.

Under sanctions, South Korea and other major Iranian crude buyers were required to ship in no more crude than levels imported in 2014.

Seoul bought 5.7 million tonnes, or 114,595 bpd, of crude from Tehran last year, down 8 percent year-on-year, according to the customs data and Reuters calculations last month.

Overall, South Korea imported 10.84 million tonnes of crude in January, or 2.56 million bpd. That was 4.6-percent lower than the 11.37 million tonnes imported a year earlier, according to the customs data.

Final data for last month's crude oil imports will be released by state-run Korea National Oil Corporation later this month.