SEOL: South Korea’s imports of Iranian crude oil dropped 30.6% in December from the year before, while inbound shipments from the Middle Eastern nation over the whole of 2017 jumped by 29.1%, customs data showed yesterday. The world’s fifth-largest crude importer in December brought in 1.08mn tonnes of Iranian crude, or 255,081 barrels per day (bpd), down 30.6% from 1.55mn tonnes a year earlier.
Major Asian crude buyers including South Korea have snapped up purchases of Iranian oil since sanctions over the nation’s disputed nuclear programme were lifted a couple of years ago.
South Korea mainly buys condensate from Iran, an ultra-light form of crude, but its data does not provide a breakdown on categories of imports. Despite a push by Iran to boost exports, its condensate shipments have been dented by a technical problem at the South Pars oil field. Iranian oil and shipping sources said earlier this month that oil output from the third-biggest producer in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) had stayed around 3.8mn bpd, despite political unrest in the country around that time. For the whole of 2017, South Korea’s oil imports from Iran rose 29.1% to 18.07mn tonnes, or 362,884 bpd, versus 14mn tonnes in 2016, according to the customs data. In total, South Korea imported 13.25mn tonnes of crude oil in December, or 3.13mn bpd, up 0.1% from 13.24mn tonnes a year ago, the data showed.
South Korea’s crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia last month edged down 0.2% from a year ago to 4mn tonnes, or 946,615 bpd, with total 2017 crude intake from its top oil supplier falling 1.7% to 43.06mn tonnes from 2016.