S. Korea’s April Ira­nian Crude Oil Im­ports Fall

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SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s crude oil im­ports from Iran fell 12.1 per­cent in April from a year ago, while im­ports of Rus­sian oil more dou­bled, cus­toms data showed on Tues­day.

South Korea im­ported 1.24 mil­lion tons of Ira­nian crude, or 303,025 bar­rels per day (bpd), in April, down from 1.41 mil­lion tons from last year, ac­cord­ing to the cus­toms data.

The world’s fifth-big­gest crude oil im­porter has in­creased its im­ports of Ira­nian crude, mainly con­den­sate, or an ul­tra-light oil since sanc­tions were lifted in 2016.

How­ever, im­ports have fallen this year, partly re­flect­ing a cut in sup­plies to South Korea by the Na­tional Ira­nian Oil Co due to lower pro­duc­tion and the start of a new split­ter, sources have said.

Wor­ries had also been grow­ing about the po­ten­tial reim­po­si­tion of U.S. sanc­tions against Iran, which U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump an­nounced on May 8, spurring some South Korean buy­ers to re­place im­ports of Ira­nian con­den­sate.

South Korean re­finer Hyundai Oil­bank made its first pur­chase of Nor­we­gian con­den­sate, while SK In­cheon Petrochem said it would con­tinue to buy light crude in­clud­ing from Rus­sia and Kazakhstan.

In the first four months of this year, South Korea’s in­take of Ira­nian oil dropped 34 per­cent to 4.69 mil­lion or 286,308 bpd, ver­sus about 7.1 mil­lion tons over the same pe­riod a year ago, the data showed.

In to­tal, South Korea’s April crude oil im­ports were 11.59 mil­lion tons, or 2.83 mil­lion bpd, up 2.5 per­cent from 11.30 mil­lion tons from 2017, ac­cord­ing to the data.

April crude im­ports from Saudi Ara­bia, South Korea’s top crude oil sup­plier, fell 6.9 per­cent to 3.32 mil­lion tons, or 810,564 bpd, from last year.

Mean­while, South Korea im­ported 1.01 mil­lion tons from Rus­sia in April, or 33,689 bpd, up 132.4 per­cent from 434,974 tons last year, ac­cord­ing to the data.

For the Jan­uary-April pe­riod of this year, South Korean brought in 48.29 mil­lion tons of crude, or 2.95 mil­lion bpd, up 0.2 per­cent from 48.18 mil­lion tons in the same pe­riod in 2017.

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