South Korea’s crude imports from Iran rose further in July to be nearly four times the level of a year ago, and 5.9 percent higher than the previous month, after international sanctions were lifted on Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme.
Seoul brought in 1.10 million tonnes of Iranian crude oil last month, or 260,910 barrels per day (bpd), 285 percent above the 286,374 tonnes imported a year earlier when sanctions were imposed on Tehran, its customs office data showed on Monday.
The world’s fifth-largest crude importer shipped in 7.22 million tonnes of crude from the Middle Eastern country in the Janaury-July period of 2016, or 248,616 bpd, versus 3.23 million tonnes in the same period in 2015, according to the data. That was more than double from a year ago.
Iranian oil sales may stay strong as the OPEC producer cut prices for August crude sales to Asia, the Mediterranean and from the port of Sidi Kerir in Egypt, in a continuing effort to regain market share in these regions post-sanctions.
Hyundai Oilbank, South Korea’s smallest refiner by capacity, bought its first Iranian condensate cargoes of about 1.1 million barrels loading in June and August ahead of the start-up of its new 130,000-bpd splitter, two sources with knowledge of the matter said.
South Korea’s crude oil imports data usually includes condensate, without giving a breakdown.
Overall, Asia’s No.4 economy imported 12.06 million tonnes of crude last month, or 2.85 million bpd. The total was 3.9 percent lower than the 12.55 million tonnes imported in July last year, the customs data showed.
In the first seven months of the year, South Korea imported 83.04 million tonnes of crude, or 2.86 million bpd, compared with 80.01 million tonnes, or 2.77 million bpd, in the same period in 2015.
Final data for last month’s crude oil imports will be released by state-run Korea National Oil Corp later this month.