Seoul shuns Iranian crude as US and Saudi imports rise

Seoul shuns Iranian crude as US and Saudi imports rise

SEOUL (Rahnuma): South Korea’s US crude imports in January rose 53.3 percent from a year earlier, customs data showed on Saturday, reflecting the country’s steady purchases of US oil in the absence of Iranian crude due to sanctions imposed by Washington.

In January, the world’s fifth-largest crude importer received 1.72 million tons of US crude, or 406,055 barrels per day (bpd), up 53.3 percent from 1.12 million tons from a year earlier, according to the customs data. That was also up 1.2 percent from 1.68 million tons in December.

The US was South Korea’s second largest crude oil supplier in January after Saudi Arabia.

The jump in US crude comes as South Korea, one of Asia’s major Iranian oil buyers, halted importing oil from Iran since May 2019 with the end of US sanctions that allowed South Korea to purchase Iranian crude oil, mainly condensate, or an ultra-light form of crude oil.

South Korea’s imports of Iranian crude were zero in January, compared with 227,941 tons, or 53,676 bpd last year, the data showed.

In total, the country shipped in 12.42 million tons of crude oil in January, or 2.94 million bpd, slightly down 0.3 percent from 12.46 million tons from a year earlier, according to the customs data.

Crude oil shipments from Saudi Arabia, South Korea’s top oil supplier, increased 2.9 percent year-on-year in January to 3.61 million tons, or 853,769 bpd.

The country’s final crude oil imports data from state-run Korea National Oil Corp. is due to be released later this month.

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