* Total crude import at 81.249 mln bbls in Oct -KNOC
* Resumes Iran crude imports, buys 5.78 mln bbls in Oct
* Jan-Oct Iran crude imports at 44.55 mln bbls, down 40 pct
By Meeyoung Cho
SEOUL, Nov 21 South Korea imported 81.2 million
barrels of crude oil in October, down 2 percent from a year ago,
and resumed its imports of Iranian crude as scheduled, data from
state-run Korea National Oil Corp showed on Wednesday.
Of the total, South Korea imported 5.78 million barrels of
Iranian crude last month, the data showed. Its imports from Iran
during the first 10 months of the year stood at 44.55 million
barrels, down 40 percent on the year, KNOC said.
South Korea is the world's fifth largest importer of crude
oil, and one of Iran's biggest oil customers. But purchases of
oil from Iran had been hit as European Union sanctions made it
tough to ship, insure and pay for the oil.
The West has imposed sanctions on Iran because it suspects
Tehran wants to develop nuclear weapons, while Iran says its
nuclear programme is for civilian purposes.
Korean refiners resumed imports of Iranian crude oil in
September for October arrivals - with imports seen at about 6
million barrels per month, or 200,000 barrels per day of full
contracted volumes - after it found a way to get around the EU
ban on insurance cover.
Preliminary customs data released by the economy ministry on
Nov. 1 showed South Korea's crude oil imports in October fell
2.2 percent from a year earlier to 81 million
(Reporting by Meeyoung Cho; Editing by Himani Sarkar)