South Korea seeks to double crude imports from Iran

A new report says South Korea intends to more than double its imports of crude oil and natural gas condensate from Iran.

The Tuesday report by The Korea Times quoted ‘industry sources’ as saying that Seoul’s bid is aimed at ramping up energy ties with Tehran.

It said the two countries are set to ink a number of deals on the promotion of oil trade early next month, when Korean President Park Geun-hye is to make a trip to Iran to boost bilateral business relations.

“South Korea and Iran are expected to sign several memoranda of understanding (MoUs) as South Korea is seeking to find a stable source of crude, while Iran wants to have a base for tapping into the Northeast Asian market,” the Korean daily quoted the unnamed source as saying.

With the signing of the deals, Seoul is moving to increase its daily crude imports from Iran to around 280,000 barrels this year from 115,000 barrels last year, the report added.

Iranian officials said Monday that South Korean President Park Geun-hye will visit Tehran in May, where she will hold discussions with the country’s senior officials on a wide range of issues.

Energy-hungry South Korea, the world’s fifth largest oil importer, is one of the largest buyers of Iranian oil.

Last year, South Korea imported US$2.20 billion worth of crude oil from Iran, down 51 percent from the previous year and far lower than $9.36 billion in 2011, according to Korea Times.

By volume, imports of crude and condensate came to 42.4 million barrels last year.

Natural gas condensate is used as feedstock for oil refining and other petrochemical industries.

However, in the first three months of this year, South Korean imports of Iranian crude jumped 17.6 percent on-year to $629 million, with the volume reaching 22.85 million barrels, the report added.

Imports of Iranian condensate rose more than ninefold from a year earlier to $247 million in the January-March period. For all of last year, imports of condensate from Iran came to $358 million.

On top of boosting imports of Iranian crude, South Korea will push for a joint project to stockpile two million barrels of Iranian crude and condensate at a storage facility south of Seoul, according to the sources.

By Press TV