* April Iran oil imports at 552,884 T, double m/m, up 9 pct
* Jan-April Iran oil imports at 135,982 bpd, down 8 pct y/y
* Jan-April daily Iran import avg just above 134,000 bpd of
* Total crude imports in April at 9.5 mln T, up 2 pct y/y
By Meeyoung Cho
SEOUL, May 15 South Korea's crude imports from
Iran doubled in April from March, when the shipments dropped due
to refinery maintenance, but intake of the oil over the first
four months remained near last year's average, customs data
showed on Thursday.
South Korea imported 552,884 tonnes of Iranian crude last
month, or 135,088 barrels per day (bpd), compared with 274,808
tonnes a month ago and 507,821 tonnes a year ago, according to
the preliminary customs data.
South Korea took 2.2 million tonnes, or 135,982 bpd, in the
first four months of this year from the Islamic republic, down 8
percent from the same period in 2013 and slightly more than the
average 134,000 bpd for all of last year.
South Korea and other Asian buyers are supposed to hold
their crude imports from the OPEC member at end-2013 levels,
under the terms of the Geneva accord between Iran and six major
powers that took effect in January and eased some sanctions on
Tehran in exchange for curbs to its nuclear programme.
In South Korea, only SK Energy and Hyundai
Oilbank of four refiners buy Iranian oil. The
country's Iran oil imports often swing widely month to month as
one of the two usually buys the crude only every other month.
SK Energy, South Korea's largest refiner, shut its
260,000-bpd No.5 crude distillation unit (CDU) and its
57,000-bpd No.1 gasoline-making unit in the second quarter for
maintenance after it closed a vacuum residue desulfurizer from
March to April.
Hyundai Oilbank also shut its No.1 110,000-bpd CDU in April
A tanker loading schedule seen by Reuters in April suggests
that South Korea will be importing very little oil from Iran in
May due to the maintenance closures.
South Korea, Asia's fourth-largest economy, imported a total
of 9.5 million tonnes of crude last month, or 2.3 million bpd,
compared with 9.3 million tonnes in April last year, the customs
Final data for April crude oil imports will be released by
state-run Korea National Oil Corp later this month.
India cut its Iranian crude imports by 42 percent in April
from March, tanker arrival data obtained from trade sources
showed on Wednesday, in a sign other Asian buyers are reining in
an early-year buying spree that took Tehran's exports well past
levels allowed under the Geneva deal.
(Editing by Tom Hogue)