EghtesadOnline: A top US official discussed this week South Korea’s crude oil imports from Iran and urged Seoul to accelerate its oil supply diversification, S&P Global Platts reported on Thursday, quoting a diplomatic source.
US assistant secretary of state for energy resources Francis Fannon is on a tour in Asia this week and is visiting Seoul and Tokyo between February 19 and 26.
Fannon is meeting with government officials and private sector representatives “to discuss energy security and regional cooperation on energy issues,” the US Department of State said, noting that the official will also highlight the importance of energy diversification in the Indo-Pacific Region.
Both South Korea and Japan were among the eight Iranian customers who received waivers from the US to continue importing Iranian oil at reduced volumes until early May 2019, Financial Tribune reported.
South Korea’s deputy minister for economic affairs of the ministry of foreign affairs, Yun Kang-hyeon, met with Fannon on Wednesday and discussed ways to increase cooperation in the energy sector.
Yun and Fannon “talked about the Iranian crude issue and South Korea’s efforts toward diversification of sources of crude imports,” Platts’ source in Seoul said, without elaborating on details.
According to Takayuki Nogami, chief economist at Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National, Fannon’s visit seems to be aimed at urging supply diversification and boosting energy security, including by Japan and South Korea increasing their US crude oil imports, which may lead to reduced Iranian oil imports in the region.
Iran’s key Asian customers—Japan, South Korea, India, and China—are all buying Iranian crude once again, but at much lower rates than they did before November when US sanctions kicked in, S&P Global Platts estimates showed at the end of January.