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South Korea's imports of Iranian crude oil in December slumped 29.4% to 4.036 million barrels, or 130,194 b/d, compared with 5.724 million barrels a year earlier, data released Wednesday by state-run Korea National Oil Corp showed.

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But the December volume was up 4.7% from imports of 3.853 million barrels in November, the data showed.

For the whole of 2013, South Korea imported 48.21 million barrels of Iranian crude, down 14.1% from the 56.15 million barrels it purchased in the previous year.

The US said Monday it had taken the necessary steps to pause efforts to further reduce Iranian crude oil exports by allowing the six current customers of Iranian oil to maintain their purchases at current levels for the duration of the Geneva agreement between Iran and world powers that came into effect Monday.

Washington in November pledged not to put pressure on China, India, Japan, South Korea, Turkey and Taiwan to cut their Iranian oil imports further as part of the Joint Plan of Action agreed with Iran in Geneva.

Meanwhile, South Korea's total crude oil imports in December slipped 6.9% year on year to 74.19 million barrels, or 2.39 million b/d, according to the KNOC data. This was also down 2.1% from imports of 75.81 million barrels in November.

South Korea imported a total of 915.08 million barrels, or 2.51 million b/d, of crude in the whole of 2013, down 3.4% from 947.29 million barrels in 2012. The country's oil consumption climbed 2.4% year on year to 75.05 million barrels, or 2.42 million b/d, in December. This was also up 5.1% from 71.39 million barrels in November.

South Korea consumed a total of 826.84 million barrels, or 2.27 million b/d, in 2013, down 0.1% from 827.68 million barrels in the previous year.

The country's refined product exports in December fell 15% year on year to 32.24 million barrels, or 1.04 million b/d, the data showed. This was also down 17.5% from November's 39.06 million barrels.

In 2013, its exports of oil products fell 2.6% to 429.22 million barrels, or 1.18 million b/d, compared with 440.90 million barrels in 2012.

--Charles Lee,
--Edited by Deepa Vijiyasingam,