SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea’s imports of Iranian crude oil fell 9.5 percent in October from the previous month as the Middle Eastern country cut crude and condensate exports to Asia due to production setbacks.
South Korea, one of Iran’s main Asian clients, brought in 1.65 million tonnes of Iranian crude in October, or 390,675 barrels per day (bpd), customs data showed on Wednesday. That is a 9.5-percent decline from 1.83 million tonnes in September, but still up nearly 83 percent from last year.
Iran is South Korea’s main supplier of ultra-light oil, also known as condensate, but the data does not provide a breakdown of imports.
The drop in Iran’s oil exports to South Korea comes amid ongoing efforts by Tehran to ramp up its oil output since sanctions were lifted last year in a bid to recoup its lost market share.
But Iran has experienced production setbacks and reduced its condensate shipments due to a “technical problem” at the South Pars field that has prompted 1-2 months of maintenance, the National Iranian Oil Company’s Director of International Affairs Saeid Khoshrou told Reuters in late September.
Over January-October this year, oil shipments from Iran jumped 46.5 percent to about 15.7 million tonnes, or 378,447 bpd, versus 10.72 million tonnes during the same period a year ago, according to the customs data.
Overall, the world’s No.5 crude importer’s total imports in October were 12.44 million tonnes, or 2.94 million bpd, up 7.4 percent from 11.59 million tonnes a year earlier, the data showed.
Although South Korea’s total crude imports increased last month on-year, its crude imports from Saudi Arabia dropped 30.2 percent to around 2.7 million tonnes in October, or 634,876 bpd, from a year ago as the kingdom continues to curb its oil production as part of the OPEC-led supply cut deal to clear global oversupply.
For the first 10 months of 2017, Korea’s crude oil imports climbed 3.8 percent to 122.95 million tonnes, or 2.96 million bpd, compared with 118.44 million tonnes over the same period last year.
South Korea’s final October crude imports data is set to be released by state-run Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC) later this month.
Reporting by Jane Chung; Editing by Joseph Radford