South Korea’s crude oil imports from Iran increased 10.5% in June from a year earlier as Tehran continued to ramp up output after sanctions over its nuclear programme were lifted.
Seoul imported 1.15mn tonnes of crude from Tehran in June, or 281,338 barrels per day (bpd), compared with 1.04mn tonnes a year ago, customs data showed yesterday.
In the first half of the year, South Korea’s intake of Iranian oil jumped 51.5% to 9.27mn tonnes, or 375,597 bpd, over the same period a year ago.
South Korea is one of the main Asian customers for Iranian crude, including an ultra-light oil known as condensate.
Although Iran ranked as South Korea’s second-biggest crude oil supplier in the January-March period in 2017, the data showed it slid to No 3 spot behind Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in the first half of this year as Iran struggled to keep condensate shipment volumes after clearing stocks stored on tankers.
Iran, a member of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) is exempt from the oil producer club’s commitment to cut production to clear a global glut.
Iran has been pumping around 3.8mn bpd in recent months and expects its oil output to rise to about 4mn bpd by the end of the year, its deputy oil minister Hossein Zamaninia said.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s imports from Kuwait declined 13.2% in June from a year ago to 1.53mn tonnes, or 374,010 bpd, according to the data.
But Kuwait regained No 2 position in the first six months of 2017 with almost 11mn tonnes of crude shipment in the January-June period of 2017, or 445,123 bpd, up 2.9% from the same time last year. In June, oil supplies from Saudi Arabia rose 13.7% to 3.48mn tonnes, or 849,772 bpd, a year ago, the data noted.
Korea’s oil imports from the world’s top exporter climbed 4.2% to 21.71mn tonnes in the first half of 2017. Overall, the world’s fifth-biggest crude importer brought in 11.61mn tonnes of oil last month, or 2.84mn bpd, up 3.2% from 11.26mn tonnes a year ago. In the first six months of 2017, South Korea imported 72.24mn tonnes of crude, or 2.93mn bpd, up 1.8% from nearly 71mn tonnes over the same period last year. Final data for June crude oil imports by state-run Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC) is due later this month.
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