S. Korea struggling to replace Iranian oil: report

July 15, 2019 - 19:44

TEHRAN - South Korea’s crude oil imports have fallen 12.6 percent in June to 11.49 million tons, an indication that the country is having problems replacing its oil imports from Iran.

According to a report by Reuters, the country, once one of Iran’s major oil buyers, imported no crude oil from Iran for a second month in June following the end of a U.S. sanctions wavier, customs data showed on Monday.

South Korean oil buyers mainly imported condensate, an ultra-light oil, from Iran.

Shipments of Iranian oil in the first six months of the year were nearly 3.9 million tons, or 156,155 barrels per day (bpd), down 36.9 percent from 6.13 million tons during the same period a year earlier, according to customs data.

Reflecting South Korea’s efforts to replace Iranian oil and diversify its crude sources, imports from the United States nearly tripled to 1.09 million tons in June, or 264,745 bpd. It also imported 265,403 tons of crude oil from Kazakhstan in June, up 96.2% from 135,254 tons a year earlier, the data showed.

In the first half of the year, South Korea’s crude oil imports dipped 2 percent to 72.7 million tons, or 2.93 million bpd.

South Korea was among the eight countries which were granted six-month waivers from the United States in November 2018 to buy oil from Iran. 

However, Washington said in April that it would not renew any exemptions for sanctions on Iran, stepping up pressure on Tehran. The waivers ended on May 2.

During January-April period South Korea’s total imports from Iran reached 3.87 million tons, or 235,533 bpd as the country resumed imports of Iranian oil in January after a four-month hiatus.

The surges in Iran’s oil exports came after the country’s Asian buyers rushed to use the opportunity that the waivers on U.S. sanctions has provided.

EF/MA

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