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South Korea imports no oil from Iran in June; first-half imports fall 37%

South Korea imported no crude oil from Iran for a second month in June following the end of a U.S. sanctions wavier, with Iranian imports for the first half dropping 36.9% from a year earlier, customs data showed.

South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest crude oil importer and one of Iran’s major oil customers, stopped importing Iranian crude from May after waivers on U.S. sanctions against Iran ended at the start of that month.

South Korean oil buyers mainly imported condensate, an ultra-light oil, from Iran.

Shipments of Iranian oil in the first six months of the year were nearly 3.9 million tonnes, or 156,155 barrels per day (bpd), down 36.9% from 6.13 million tonnes during the same period a year earlier, according to customs data.

In total, South Korea’s crude oil imports fell 12.6% in June to 11.49 million tonnes, or about 2.8 million bpd.

Oil shipments from Saudi Arabia, South Korea’s top oil supplier, were 3.67 million tonnes in June, or 893,806 bpd, down 16.2% from 4.38 million tonnes last year.

Reflecting South Korea’s efforts to replace Iranian oil and diversify its crude sources, imports from the United States nearly tripled to 1.09 million tonnes in June, or 264,745 bpd. It also imported 265,403 tonnes of crude oil from Kazakhstan in June, up 96.2% from 135,254 tonnes a year earlier, the data showed.

In the first half of the year, South Korea’s crude oil imports dipped 2% to 72.7 million tonnes, or 2.93 million bpd.

With South Korea increasing its U.S. oil intake, the United States ranked as South Korea’s No.4 crude oil supplier in the first half of the year, supplying 7.8 million tonnes, or 313,387 bpd. This was more than quadruple the intake of 1.81 million tonnes a year earlier.

South Korea is expected to keep purchasing U.S. oil amid ongoing OPEC-led supply cuts and higher U.S. crude oil production.

State-run Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC) will release the country’s final crude oil imports data later this month.
Source: Reuters (Reporting By Jane Chung; editing by Richard Pullin)

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