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South Korea data: Iranian crude imports almost halve on year to 10.06 mil barrels in Mar

Seoul (Platts)--16 Apr 2018 233 am EDT/633 GMT


South Korea's crude oil imports from Iran fell 45.7% year on year to 1.373 million mt (10.06 million barrels or 324,516 b/d) in March, from 18.54 million barrels in the year-ago month, according to preliminary data by the Korea Customs Service Monday.

This marks the fifth consecutive decline since November last year when imports fell 26.8% year on year to 10.37 million barrels.

But the March imports were up 10.7% from 9.09 million barrels in February.

For the first three months, Iranian crude imports plunged 42.3% year on year to 26.96 million barrels, from 46.73 million barrels in same period last year.

In 2017, Iranian crude oil imports increased 32.1% to 147.87 million barrels. The country's monthly imports of Iranian crude had increased since January 2016 when the US and EU lifted sanctions on Iran.

The sharp decrease in crude imports from Iran was largely attributable to fewer condensate shipments following the startup of new condensate splitters in the Gulf nation.

South Korea's crude oil imports from its biggest supplier Saudi Arabia also fell 16.7% year on year to 2.954 million mt, or 21.65 million barrels, last month, from 25.99 million barrels a year earlier.

It marks the first decline following rises for three months in a row. The March imports were also down 28.9% from 30.47 million barrels in February.

In total, South Korea imported 10.914 million mt (80 million barrels or 2.58 million b/d) of crude oil in March, down 16.6% from 95.91 million barrels a year earlier.

It marked the first decline after increases for five months in a row. The March imports were also down 15.3% from 94.45 million barrels in February.

For January-March the country's crude imports dipped 1.4% year on year to 274.27 million barrels, compared with 278.18 million barrels in the year-ago period.

In 2017, the country imported a total 1.118 billion barrels of crude oil, up 3.7% from 1.078 billion barrels in 2016.

The sharp decrease in crude oil imports in March came as the country's crude stockpiles have increased.

South Korea's crude stockpiles jumped 30.6% year on year to 49.46 million barrels in end-February, compared with 37.87 million barrels a year earlier, according to data released late last month from state-owned Korea National Oil Corp.

The country's crude stockpiles have steadily climbed on a yearly basis through since November 2015 on the back of increased crude oil imports for the past months.

South Korean stockpiles of overall oil products also increased 4.2% year on year to 64.91 million barrels in end-February.

Final oil trade data for March will be released later this month by KNOC.

-- Charles Lee, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Irene Tang, newsdesk@spglobal.com




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