285% Rise in Iran's Crude Exports to South Korea

285% Rise in Iran's Crude Exports to South Korea285% Rise in Iran's Crude Exports to South Korea

South Korea's crude imports from Iran rose further in July by nearly fourfold from a year ago and 5.9% higher than the previous month, after international sanctions were lifted on Tehran's disputed nuclear program.

Seoul brought in 1.10 million tons of Iranian crude oil last month, or 260,910 barrels per day, 285% above the 286,374 tons imported a year earlier when sanctions were imposed on Tehran, its customs office data showed on Monday, Reuters reported.

The world's fifth-largest crude importer shipped in 7.22 million tons of crude from the Middle Eastern country in the January-July period of 2016, or 248,616 bpd, versus 3.23 million tons in the same period in 2015, according to the data. That was more than double from a year ago.

Iranian oil sales may stay strong as the OPEC producer cut prices for August crude sales to Asia, the Mediterranean and from the port of Sidi Kerir in Egypt, in a continuing effort to regain market share in these regions' post-sanctions.

Hyundai Oilbank, South Korea's smallest refiner by capacity, bought its first Iranian condensate cargoes of about 1.1 million barrels loading in June and August ahead of the start of its new 130,000-bpd splitter, two sources with knowledge of the matter said.

South Korea's crude oil imports data usually include condensate, without giving a breakdown.

Overall, Asia's No.4 economy imported 12.06 million tons of crude last month, or 2.85 million bpd. The total was 3.9% lower than the 12.55 million tons imported in July last year, the customs data showed.

In the first seven months of the year, South Korea imported 83.04 million tons of crude, or 2.86 million bpd, compared with 80.01 million tons, or 2.77 million bpd, in the same period in 2015.

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