Reuters: South Korea’s Iranian crude oil imports fell in August to a third of those a month earlier, helping Seoul to close in on its target of cutting imports in the June-November period by 15 percent to extend a U.S. sanctions waiver.
By Jane Chung
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s Iranian crude oil imports fell in August to a third of those a month earlier, helping Seoul to close in on its target of cutting imports in the June-November period by 15 percent to extend a U.S. sanctions waiver.
The Asian country imported 272,090 tonnes of Iran crude last month, or 64,336 barrels per day (bpd), declining from 190,516 bpd in July and putting the total imports for June-August at 130,135 bpd, preliminary customs data and Reuters calculations show.
The total means it is only an inch away from 125,814 bpd that South Korea aims to achieve in its six-month imports through November. It has vowed to slash Iranian oil imports by 15 percent from 148,016 bpd imported in December 2012 to May 2013, two sources told Reuters in June. [ID: nL3N0F10D4]
Along with China, India and other Iranian oil importers, South Korea agreed to cut purchases of oil from Iran to secure a renewed six-month waiver on U.S. sanctions aimed at restraining Iran’s flow of oil money into its disputed nuclear programme.
Imports vary from month to month. South Korea’s imports of Iran crude unexpectedly jumped in July from the year-earlier period.
Seoul made no Iran crude oil imports in August of last year due to European Union restrictions on shipping insurance, although imports resumed in October after finding a way round on the insurance ban.
U.S. lawmakers want to further toughen the measures that have cost Iran billions of dollars a month in lost revenue, while Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who took office in early August, has promised more transparency in its nuclear programme.
South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest crude buyer, imported a total of 9.72 million tonnes of crude last month against 11.03 million tonnes in August 2012, data from the Korea Customs Service also showed on Sunday.
Final data for South Korea’s crude oil imports last month will be published by state-run Korea National Oil Corp later this month. (Reporting by Jane Chung; Editing by Meeyoung Cho and Nick Macfie)