SEOUL Aug 23 South Korea imported Iranian crude
oil in July, despite a ban on shipments from July 1 due to
European Union sanctions that restrict insurance on tankers
carrying Iranian oil.
Asia's fourth-largest economy imported 4.26 million barrels
last month, down 42 percent from a year earlier, data from
state-run Korea National Oil Corp showed on Thursday.
The North Asian nation, usually the world's No.4 buyer of
Iranian crude, imported 38.77 million barrels from Iran in the
first seven months of this year, down 21 percent from a year
ago, the KNOC data showed.
In June, South Korea became the first major Asian consumer
of Iranian crude to announce a halt in imports after the
government said shipments would be suspended from July 1 because
of the European Union insurance ban.
South Korea's economy ministry sources said on Monday that
domestic refiners would resume imports of up to 200,000 barrels
per day of Iranian crude from September, shifting to Iran the
responsibility of insurance, and ending the two-month gap.
Tehran offered to provide up to $1 billion of insurance
cover to Iranian vessels shipping oil to South Korea as Iran has
a major interest in keeping its crude flowing to South Korea,
China, India and Japan - its top four customers.
The four countries, which buy more than half of Iran's oil
exports, have slashed Iranian purchases this year, though, under
pressure from EU and U.S. sanctions that aim to squeeze Tehran's
oil income and curb its nuclear programme.
The West suspects Iran wants to develop weapons, a motive
that Tehran denies.
(Reporting by Meeyoung Cho;Editing by Clarence Fernandez)