South Korea ups oil imports from Iran

A new report says South Korea increased crude imports from Iran by 91 percent in February from a year earlier.

Seoul bought 1,064,337 tons of Iranian oil last month, or 269,020 barrels per day (bpd), almost two times higher than 557,174 tons a year earlier, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing Korean customs data.

The report said in the first two months of 2016, the world’s fifth largest oil importer brought in 1,923,560 tons, or 486,196 bpd, of crude from Iran, versus 830,800 tons in the same period in 2015.

Energy hungry South Korea plans to boost imports of Iranian oil, especially condensate, this year to meet growing demand.

The Asian country imported a total of 12.92 million tons of crude last month, or 3.26 million bpd. The total was 20 percent higher than the 10.74 million tons imported in February of 2015.

Seoul bought 203,165 barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian crude oil in January against 64,699 bpd a year earlier. The figure showed South Korea tripled its imports of Iranian crude.

The imports were the highest since 2012 when South Korea bought 230,769 barrels from Iran before it cut shipments due to intensified Western sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Iran now reportedly produces around 3.1 million bpd of oil as it seeks to regain market share after sanctions were effectively lifted in January.

The sanctions had cut its crude exports from a peak of 2.5 million bpd before 2011 to just over 1 million bpd in recent years.