South Korea's imports of Iranian crude oil in February more than doubled to 8.140 million barrels, or 290,714 b/d, compared with 3.974 million barrels a year earlier, data released Tuesday by state-run Korea National Oil Corp. showed.
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This marks the first year-on-year increase in the country's imports of Iranian crude, after four months of decline. South Korea's crude imports from Iran slumped 66.1% year on year to 64,419 b/d in January; 29.4% to 130,194 b/d in December; 34.4% to 128,333 b/d in November and 47.4% to 98,097 b/d in October.
The February volume surged more than four times from imports of 1.997 million barrels in January, the data showed. For the first two months of this year, South Korea imported 10.137 million barrels of crude from Iran, up 2.7% from 9.870 million barrels in the same period last year. In 2013, South Korea imported 48.21 million barrels of Iranian crude, down 14.1% year on year.
The US in November 2013 extended a six-month waiver from Iran sanctions to nine countries including South Korea, as the countries were deemed to have made significant reductions in the purchases in the previous six months.
The waiver extension came after the US and five other global powers agreed in Geneva in November to a six-month pause in efforts to further reduce Iran's crude sales in return for concessions on Iran's nuclear program.
Meanwhile, South Korea's total crude oil imports in February slipped 6.4% year on year to 73.774 million barrels, or 2.63 million b/d, from 78.846 million barrels in the same month last year, according to the KNOC data.
This was also down 5.9% from imports of 78.426 million barrels in January. In 2013, South Korea imported a total 915.08 million barrels of crude, or 2.51 million b/d, down 3.4% from 947.29 million barrels in 2012.
The country's oil consumption in February edged down 0.5% year on year to 64.41 million barrels, or 2.30 million b/d, compared with 64.09 million barrels a year earlier. This was also down 8.8% from 70.64 million barrels in January.
The country's refined product exports in February fell 8.6% year on year to 32.77 million barrels, or 1.17 million b/d, from 35.87 million barrels a year earlier. This was also down 9.2% from 36.11 million barrels in January.