South Korea's crude imports from Iran jump 113.5%

Jun 06, 2016 12:00 AM

South Korea's crude oil and condensate imports from Iran more than doubled for the period January-April 2016, the country's state-run oil refiner said on Sunday.

According to figures from Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC), imports jumped 113.5% to 30mn barrels in the first four months of this year compared to  the same period the year before.

Annual volumes of Iranian crude shipped to Seoul stood at 87.2mn barrels in 2011, but dropped to 56.1mn barrels in the following year, when economic sanctions were imposed on Tehran over its nuclear programme.

South Korean imports then further dipped to 44.9mn barrels in 2014, the KNOC said.

Korean firms have been quick to take advantage of heavily discounted Iranian crude since sancitons were lifted in July last year.

In April this year, SK Innovation Co., South Korea's leading refiner, and No. 4 Hyundai Oil Bank Co. have increased their volumes of Iranian oil, followed by Hanwha Total Petrochemical Co., a chemical unit under Hanwha Group.

Other companies like GS Caltex Corp., South Korea's second-largest refiner half owned by US oil giant Chevron, and smaller market player S-Oil Corp., have refrained from importing Iranian oil.

"Imports of Iranian oil will increase once remaining hurdles such as U.S. dollar settlement are lifted when trading with Iran," an official at one of the refiners was quoted as saying by Tehran Times.

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