South Korea: No Crude Imports From Iran in September

South Korea: No Crude Imports From Iran in September
South Korea: No Crude Imports From Iran in September

South Korea imported no Iranian crude in September -- for the first time since September 2012 -- ahead of the looming reimposition of US sanctions on Tehran, preliminary data released by Korea Customs Service showed Monday.

In August, Hanwha Total was South Korea's sole importer of Iranian barrels, taking 2 million barrels of South Pars condensate, down 84.2% from the total 12.63 million barrels of crude and condensate that South Korea imported from Iran in August last year, S&P Global Platts reported. 

SK Innovation, South Korea's other main buyer of Iranian crude, imported none in September for the second consecutive month. Instead, it has increased crude imports from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the US, including White Cliff crude and Eagle Ford.

Hyundai Oilbank, which has purchased South Pars condensate and other Iranian grades such as Iran Heavy and Forozan in the past, has suspended Iranian crude imports since August while increasing purchases of Forties from the UK and the ESPO from Russia.

Over January-September, South Korea's imports of Iranian crude oil almost halved to 58.2 million barrels from 115.56 million barrels in the same period a year earlier.

In 2017, Iranian crude oil imports rose 32.1% on year to 147.87 million barrels. 

South Korea's imports of Iranian barrels have fallen steadily since last November, when its imports from Iran fell 26.8% on year to 10.37 million barrels, as it pares back shipments in a bid to secure an exemption to the US' reimposition of sanctions on Tehran.

The US has pressed Iran's oil customers, including South Korea, to eliminate imports by November 4.

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