South Korea’s September Iran Crude Imports at 6-Month High

South Korea’s September Iran Crude Imports at 6-Month HighSouth Korea’s September Iran Crude Imports at 6-Month High

South Korea’s imports of Iranian crude oil hit the highest level in six months in September amid Iran’s push to regain its lost market share during years it was under sanctions over its nuclear program.

The world’s fifth-biggest crude importer shipped in 1.83 million tons of crude oil from Iran in September, or 446,148 barrels per day. That is a 22.8% increase from nearly 1.5 million tons a year ago, customs data showed on Sunday, Reuters reported.

South Korea mainly buys a kind of ultra-light oil from Iran, also known as condensate, but the data do not provide a breakdown of imports.  Iran has continued to expand its oil production since sanctions were lifted last year. The Middle Eastern country aims to maintain its combined exports of crude and condensate at around 2.6 million bpd for the rest of the year, even though Tehran had cleared excess oil stored onshore and offshore in recent months and its domestic demand growth keeps a lid on outbound shipments, a senior official of National Iranian Oil Company said last month.

Although South Korea’s intake of Iranian oil in September grew on-year, NIOC notified its Asian buyers, including South Korea that it could cut condensate exports in October due to maintenance at the South Pars Gas Field, according to industry sources.

South Korea’s oil imports from Iran jumped 43.1% to 14.03 million tons in January-September of 2017, or 377,059 bpd, from 9.81 million tons over the same period of last year, according to the data.

Asia’s fourth-largest economy’s total crude imports in September were steady at around 12.3 million tons from the previous year, or 3 million bpd, the data showed. In the first nine months of this year, South Korea’s crude oil imports rose 3.4% to 110.51 million tons, or 2.97 million bpd, compared with 106.86 million tons during the same period a year earlier.

South Korea’s final September crude imports data are set to be released by state-run Korea National Oil Corp later this month.

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