SEOUL, Dec 15 (Reuters) – South Korea’s imports of Iranian crude oil rose 6.5 percent in November from a year earlier, but shipments for the first 11 months of the year were still below the 2013 average, in line with international sanction requirements.
Preliminary customs data from the world’s fifth-largest crude oil importer showed on Monday that Seoul bought 567,611 tonnes of crude oil from Tehran last month, or 138,686 barrels per day (bpd), compared with 532,851 tonnes a year ago.
Iranian crude shipments between January and November were 5.65 million tonnes, or 124,012 bpd, down 7.6 percent from a year earlier and 7.5 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, should hold their crude imports from Tehran at end-2013 levels under a preliminary deal between Iran and six powers agreed in November 2013.
Talks between Iran and the six powers – the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany – failed last month to resolve a 12-year stand-off over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions as the sides agreed to extend the talks till June 2015.
South Korea’s SK Energy and Hyundai Oilbank import Iranian oil and their imports fluctuate each month.
Overall, South Korea imported 11.1 million tonnes of crude last month, or 2.71 million bpd.
The total was 8.7 percent higher than the 10.2 million tonnes imported in November 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.
The customs data also showed that South Korea imported 48,600 tonnes, or 356,238 barrels, of crude worth $33.452 million from the United States last month, representing an average price of $93.90 a barrel, according to Reuters calculations.
The shipment has been expected as South Korea’s top refiner SK Energy bought U.S. ultra light oil, or condensate, from Mitsui & Co.
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