EghtesadOnline: South Korea’s imports of Iranian oil fell 40.3% in June from the same month a year ago to their lowest since January 2015, as the country’s buyers’ slashed purchases ahead of the reimposition of US sanctions targeting Iran.
One of Asia’s major Iranian oil customers, South Korea imported 686,849 tons of Iranian crude in June, or 167,820 barrels per day, compared with 1.15 million tons in June 2017, customs office data showed on Sunday. That was down 9.5% from May, Reuters reported.
In the first half of this year, South Korea’s intake of Iranian crude slid 33.9% compared with the same period of last year to 6.13 million tons, or 248,367 bpd, according to the data.
The drop comes after US President Donald Trump’s administration said it would pull out of an international nuclear deal with Iran and renew tough economic sanctions on Tehran, according to Financial Tribune.
Seoul has since been in talks to get an exemption from the United States to avert any adverse impact from halting Iranian oil imports. In August, people familiar with the matter have said South Korea’s Iranian oil imports could be zero for the first time in six years.
South Korea mainly purchases an ultra-light form of crude oil, known as condensate, from Iran, and its data do not give a breakdown by products.
In 2012, South Korea managed to get a waiver on the previous round of sanctions by importing limited amounts of Iranian oil during that time. Those sanctions were lifted in 2016.
In total, South Korea’s June crude imports were 13.14 million tons, or 3.21 million bpd, up 13.2% from 11.61 million tons in the same month last year.
From Saudi Arabia, South Korea’s top crude supplier, crude imports in June rose 26.1% to 4.38 million tons, or 1.07 million bpd, from last year. Shipments from Mexico showed a nearly fivefold increase to 568,377 tons.
South Korea’s crude imports in the first six months of this year were 74.11 million tons, or 3 million bpd, up 2.7% from 72.17 million tons during the same period in 2017, according to the data.
The country’s final June crude imports numbers are due to be released by state-run Korea National Oil Corp later this month.