By Jane Chung
March 16, 2019
South Korea’s oil imports from Iran fell 12.5 percent year-on-year in February, customs data showed on Friday, as it resumed buying from the Middle Eastern nation under a waiver from U.S. sanctions, which restricted trading volumes.
South Korea shipped in 983,497 tonnes of crude from Iran in February, or 256,412 barrels per day (bpd), compared to 1.12 million tonnes a year earlier, according to the customs data. February imports more than quadrupled from January volumes of 227,941 tonnes.
South Korea is among eight countries that in November received six-month waivers from the U.S. sanctions over Iran’s disputed nuclear programme, allowing it to import a limited volume of Iranian oil products.
Washington will likely renew waivers for most of those countries in May, sources have said, but overall volumes are expected to be cut.
In the first two months of 2019, South Korea brought in 1.21 million tonnes of Iranian oil, or 149,890 bpd, down 41.6 percent from 2.07 million tonnes over the same period last year, according to the data.
Overall shipments into the world’s fifth-largest crude importer totalled 13.14 million tonnes in February, or 3.43 million bpd. That was up 4.7 percent from 12.55 million tonnes last year.
Oil imports from Saudi Arabia, South Korea’s top crude oil supplier, decreased 3.5 percent to 3.96 million tonnes in February from 4.13 million tonnes last year.
Shipments from the United States soared in February to 1.63 million tonnes. That was more than seven times the 227,500 tonnes brought in last year.
The country’s overall crude imports in January and February edged down 0.7 percent year-on-year to 25.60 million tonnes, the data showed.
Final crude oil import data will be released later this month by state-run Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC).