SEOUL, Nov 15 (Reuters) – South Korea’s imports of Iranian crude in the first 10 months of 2014 were below the 2013 average, meeting international sanction requirements, and it imported nearly 120,000 tonnes from the United States as it brought the first Alaskan crude in a decade.
Preliminary customs data from the world’s fifth-largest crude importer showed on Saturday that Seoul bought 283,287 tonnes of crude oil from Tehran last month, or 66,984 barrels per day (bpd), compared with 420,402 tonnes the year before.
Iranian crude shipments between January and October into Asia’s fourth-largest economy hit more than 5 million tonnes, or 122,564 bpd, down 9 percent from a year ago. It was also 9 percent below the 2013 average of 134,000 bpd, according to the data and Reuters calculations.
Iran has suspended higher-grade uranium enrichment and big Asian buyers, including South Korea, will hold their crude imports from Iran at end-2013 levels under a preliminary deal between Iran and Western powers agreed in November 2013.
World powers and Iran may not be able to secure a deal on curbing Tehran’s nuclear programme before a Nov. 24 deadline, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman has said.
South Korea’s SK Energy and Hyundai Oilbank import Iranian oil and their imports fluctuate as each buys crude every other month.
The customs data showed that South Korea imported 119,439 tonnes, or more than 875,000 barrels, of crude worth $79.394 million from the United States last month, giving an average price of $91 a barrel, according to Reuters calculations.
In September, a company source and shipping data showed the first U.S. export of Alaskan crude to South Korea in more than a decade had set sail after South Korea’s GS Caltex Corp – a joint venture between GS Holdings and Chevron Corp – bought the oil on the spot market.
Overall, South Korea imported 9.98 million tonnes of crude last month, or 2.36 million bpd. The total was down 6 percent from the 10.7 million tonnes in October last year, the customs data showed. Final data for last month’s crude oil imports will be released by state-run Korea National Oil Corp later this month.
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