November 15, 2019 / 12:17 AM / in 3 months

South Korea's October U.S. crude imports rise 57.8%; imports from Iran stay zero

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea’s U.S. crude oil imports jumped 57.8% in October, while its crude imports from Iran remained at zero for a six straight month due to U.S. sanctions, customs data showed on Friday.

South Korea imported around 1.8 million tonnes of crude oil from the United States last month, or 424,832 barrels per day (bpd), versus 1.14 million tonnes a year earlier, according to the customs data. The United States was South Korea’s No.2 crude oil supplier after Saudi Arabia last month.

The jump in U.S. crude oil comes as South Korea, one of Asia’s major Iranian oil buyers, stopped importing crude oil from Iran from May following the end of U.S. sanctions waivers that allowed South Korea to purchase a limited volume of Iranian crude oil, mainly condensate, or an ultra-light form of crude oil.

In October last year, South Korea did not import oil from Iran ahead of U.S. sanctions.

South Korea’s October crude oil imports totaled 11.03 million tonnes, or 2.61 million bpd, down 15.6% from 13.06 million tonnes a year earlier.

Imports from Saudi Arabia, South Korea’s top crude oil supplier, dropped 26.3% to 3.08 million tonnes, or 727,106 bpd, according to the data.

For January-October, the world’s fifth-largest crude oil importer brought in 118.67 million tonnes of crude oil, or 2.86 million bpd. That was down 3.9% from 123.51 million tonnes during the same period a year earlier.

Meanwhile, in the first 10 months of the year, the country’s Iranian crude oil imports nearly halved to 3.87 million tonnes, or 93,356 bpd, compared with 7.15 million tonnes over the same period a year earlier.

Figures on final crude oil imports by state-run Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC) is due later this month.

Reporting By Jane Chung; Editing by Kim Coghill

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