Seoul’s Iran Oil Imports Triple

Seoul’s Iran Oil Imports TripleSeoul’s Iran Oil Imports Triple

South Korea's imports of Iranian crude oil tripled in January from a year earlier with the United States lifting sanctions on Tehran, but shipments remain far below pre-sanctions levels, customs data showed on Monday.

The world's fifth-largest crude importer brought 859,223 tons of Iranian crude oil last month, or 203,165 barrels per day, three times higher than 273,626 tons imported a year earlier, the data showed.

That marks the highest imports for January since 2012 when South Korea shipped in 975,967 tons, the data showed. The country, along with other major Iranian crude buyers, had to slash Iranian crude imports from mid-2012, Reuters reported.

Iran is exporting 1.3 million bpd of crude oil and will be pumping 1.5 million bpd by the start of the next Iranian year on March 20, according to a statement by First Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri.

Under sanctions, South Korea and other major Iranian crude buyers were required to ship in no more crude than levels imported in 2014.

Seoul bought 5.7 million tons, or 114,595 bpd, of crude from Tehran last year, down 8% year-on-year, according to the customs data and Reuters calculations last month.

Overall, South Korea imported 10.84 million tons of crude in January, or 2.56 million bpd. That was 4.6% lower than the 11.37 million tons imported a year earlier, according to the customs data.

Final data for last month's crude oil imports will be released by state-run Korea National Oil Corp later this month.