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South Korea Cuts Iran Oil Imports to Zero

Tuesday 16 October 2018

SEOUL (Reuters) — South Korea has stopped importing crude oil from Iran ahead of the U.S. sanctions that will enter into effect on November 5, Reuters reports, citing customs data. The last time South Korea did not import oil from Iran was September 2012, according to customs data.

Earlier this year, reports emerged that South Korea was planning to stop buying Iranian oil in July, but official Korean sources refuted the claims, made by unnamed sources.

The news is the expected end of a process: since the start of 2018, South Korean imports of Iranian crude had fallen by 49.1% from 2017, as of the end of September, to a total 7.15 mln tons. The country’s total September imports also declined on an annual basis, by more than a tenth to 10.83 mln tons. Since the start of the Iranian year, in late March, South Korea had been buying Iranian crude at a daily rate of almost 300,000 barrels.

Imports from Saudi Arabia, South Korea’s top crude supplier, were 3.41 mln tonnes in September, down 6.9% from 3.67 mln tonnes a year earlier. Meanwhile, South Korea’s imports of U.S. crude increased five-fold to 668,704 tonnes in September from 131,125 tonnes last year, the data showed.

The South Korean government has been in talks with the U.S. government to get exemptions on Iran crude imports. During the previous rounds of sanctions from 2012 to 2015, South Korea could buy Iranian oil by capping its Iranian oil imports volume.

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