IRAN'S OIL EXPORTS DOWN
PLATTS - South Korea's crude oil imports from Iran halved in July from a year earlier in the wake of the reimposition of US sanctions, according to preliminary data released by the Korea Customs Service Thursday.
The country imported 788,651 mt (5.78 million barrels or 186,452 b/d) of Iranian crude, including condensate, in July, down 49.5% from 11.44 million barrels in the same month last year.
This marks the ninth consecutive decline since November last year, when imports fell 26.8% year on year to 10.37 million barrels.
The July imports, however, edged up 5.3% from 5.49 million barrels in June.
For the first seven months of 2018, Iranian crude imports fell 36.5% year on year to 55.79 million barrels.
The sharp fall in crude imports from Iran was largely attributable to fewer condensate shipments following the startup of new condensate splitters in the Persian Gulf nation.
The decline could help South Korea get a sanctions waiver from the US for Iranian crude imports. The US has pressed Iran's oil customers, including South Korea, to completely eliminate imports by November 4.
South Korea, one of the closest allies to the US in East Asia, would be keen to abide by Washington's foreign policies as it requires full US support and influence in its quest to completely denuclearize North Korea and improve diplomatic and economic ties with Pyongyang.
Local refiners and government officials plan to meet later Thursday to discuss how to respond to the US request, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
South Korea's crude imports from its biggest supplier Saudi Arabia also fell 11.6% year on year to 3.29 million mt, or 24.12 million barrels, in July. The imports were also down 25.4% from June.
In total, South Korea imported 12.89 million mt (94.48 million barrels or 3.05 million b/d) of crude in July, up 1% from 93.58 million barrels a year earlier. But the July imports were down 3.6% from June.
Over January-July, the country's crude imports rose 2.5% year on year to 651.92 million barrels.
Final oil trade data for July will be released later this month by state-run Korea National Oil Corp.
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