July 15, 2015 / 8:06 AM / 3 years ago

South Korea's June crude imports from Iran down 20 percent year-on-year

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea’s crude oil imports from Iran dropped 19.7 percent in June from a year earlier, and its shipments from the OPEC country in the first half of this year also declined 5.5 percent year-on-year, meeting international sanction requirements.

South Korea's top refiner SK Energy's main factory is seen in Ulsan, about 410 km (256 miles) southeast of Seoul, February 25, 2009. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

Iran and six major world powers on Tuesday reached a nuclear deal under which the sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations are set to be lifted in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program.

“More oil from Iran will help already oversupplied crude markets become more favorable to buyers ... from a long-term perspective, it is likely to help improve refining margins,” said a Seoul-based source at one of the two South Korean refiners that import Iranian crude.

Of four refiners in the world’s fifth-largest crude importer, South Korea, only SK Energy Co Ltd and Hyundai Oilbank Co Ltd import Iranian oil.

Asked if the refiner planned to buy more Iranian oil, the source, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter, said: “We don’t have such a plan yet as no details over the agreement have been disclosed, so we cannot take any action.”

Seoul imported 485,182 tonnes of crude from the Islamic country last month, or 118,546 barrels per day (bpd), compared with 604,402 tonnes, or 147,676 bpd, a year ago, South Korean preliminary customs data showed on Wednesday.

Asia’s No.4 economy bought 2.94 million tonnes, or 119,254 bpd, of crude from the Middle Eastern nation in the first half of this year, below 3.11 million tonnes, or 126,145 bpd, in the same period in 2014.

South Korean crude shipments from Iran in 2014 were 6.2 million tonnes, or 124,497 bpd, down 7.1 percent from the 2013 average of 134,000 bpd.

Meanwhile, South Korea imported 137,198 tonnes from Mexico in June, paying $61.70 per barrel on average, according to Reuters calculations based on the trade data. The data showed South Korea’s Mexican crude shipments stood at 826,015 tonnes, or 6 million bpd, in January-June this year.

The Reuters calculations also showed that South Korea imported 54,694 tonnes of condensate from the United States last month at $76.40 per barrel on average.

Overall, Seoul imported 10.67 million tonnes of crude

last month, or 2.6 million bpd. That was 8.6-percent higher than 9.83 million tonnes of imports made in June of 2014. Final data for last month’s imports with more detail will be available from state-run Korea National Oil Corp later this month.

Reporting by Meeyoung Cho; Editing by Joseph Radford

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