By Sungwoo Park & Sangim Han
South Korea’s imports of oil from Iran increased 2.9 percent in November from October, when it resumed shipments from the Persian Gulf nation.
Purchases last month were 814,797 metric tons, equivalent to 5.97 million barrels, compared with 791,582 tons in October, according to data posted on the Korea Customs Service’s website today. Volumes dropped from 1.2 million tons a year earlier, the data showed.
There were no cargoes in August or September after South Korean refiners lost insurance coverage on ships carrying the fuel because of international sanctions on Iran. Oil processors globally reduced purchases from the Islamic republic this year amid Western sanctions aimed at pressuring the nation to halt its nuclear program, which the U.S. and Israel say is aimed at developing atomic weapons.
An EU ban that started July 1 on insurance of vessels carrying Iranian crude stopped shipments to South Korea as 95 percent of the world’s tankers are covered in the bloc. SK Innovation Co. (096770) and Hyundai Oilbank Co. resumed imports after Iran offered its own vessels.
South Korea’s imports from Iran fell 41 percent to 6.99 million tons, or 5.9 percent of the total, during the first 11 months of this year compared with the same period last year, according to the customs data.
Iran was the Asian nation’s sixth-largest crude supplier last year when it accounted for 9.4 percent of purchases, Korean government data show.