EghtesadOnline: South Korea's crude oil imports from Iran rose 26.5% in July from a year ago, driven by Seoul's strong appetite for competitively priced Iranian light oil as Tehran looks to boost market share.
One of Iran's major Asian customers, South Korea shipped in 1.40 million tons of crude from Tehran in July, or 330,151 barrels per day, up from 1.1 million tons last year, customs data showed on Tuesday, Reuters reported.
The worlds' fifth-biggest crude importer brought in 10.67 million tons of Iranian crude in the first seven months of this year, or 368,952 bpd, up 47.7% from 7.22 million tons over the same period last year, the data showed.
South Korea mainly imports Iranian condensate, an ultra-light oil used to produce more expensive fuels like naphtha. No breakdown of imports was available, Financial Tribune reported.
Iran, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is exempt from the oil organization's deal to limit production to drain a global supply glut. The country is seeking to regain market share lost during the years it was under western sanctions over its nuclear program.
In July, the Middle Eastern country exported 2.2 million bpd of oil to Asian and European markets, with its exports to Asia up by 100,000 bpd.
South Korea's intake of crude oil from top exporter Saudi Arabia fell 9.3% to 3.69 million tons, or 873,656 bpd, a year ago.
OPEC's July oil production rose further by 173,000 bpd to 32.87 million bpd, in the latest sign the oil producer club's joint efforts to cap output are weak.
Overall, South Korea's total July crude imports increased 3.2% to 12.44 million tons, or 2.94 million bpd, from a year ago, the data showed.
In January-July, South Korea imported 84.68 million tons of crude, or 2.93 million bpd, up 2.0% from 83.04 million tons in the same period of last year.
South Korea's final data for July crude oil imports by state-run Korea National Oil Corp are due later this month.