S.Korea’s Feb crude imports from Iran jump 54 pct on year

Reuters– * Feb Iranian crude imports at 1.63 mln T, up 53.5 pct y/y

* Jan-Feb crude imports from Iran up 78.2 pct y/y

* Feb crude imports from Saudi Arabia down 3.1 pct y/y

* Total Feb crude imports at 11.85 mln T, down 8.3 pct y/y

South Korea’s crude imports from Iran jumped nearly 54 percent in February from a year ago as Tehran continues to ramp up output after sanctions over its disputed nuclear programme were removed early in 2016.

The jump comes at a time when the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and some other producers have pledged to rein in output to fight a global glut in oil supply.

South Korea, one of Iran’s main oil customers, in February imported 1.63 million tonnes of Iranian crude, or 427,800 barrels per day (bpd), up from 1.06 million tonnes a year ago and 1.79 million tonnes the previous month, customs data showed on Wednesday.

In the first two months of 2017, the world’s fifth-largest crude importer shipped in 3.43 million tonnes of Iranian crude, or 425,878 bpd, up 78.2 percent from the 1.92 million tonnes imported during the same period a year ago.

Iran’s crude oil exports reached a record 3 million bpd in late February to late March, the country’s oil minister said early this month.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s intake of Saudi Arabian crude, fell 3.1 percent to 3.61 million tonnes, or 944,793 bpd, last month from a year ago as the world’s top oil exporter complies with the OPEC deal to curb supply.

OPEC and other major oil producers agreed to cut output last year by almost 1.8 million bpd in the first half of 2017. Iran was exempted from the supply cut deal.

OPEC’s compliance with an oil output cut exceeded a target, standing at 140 percent in February, whereas non-OPEC members compliance was 50-60 percent, Kuwait Oil Minister Essam Al-Marzouq said previously.

Overall, Asia’s fourth-largest economy imported 11.85 million tonnes of crude oil in February this year, or 3.1 million bpd, down 8.3 percent from 12.92 million tonnes a year ago, according to the customs data.

South Korea shipped in 24.3 million tonnes of crude in the January-February period, or 3.01 million bpd, up 1.9 percent from nearly 23.8 million tonnes a year earlier.

Final data for the country’s February crude oil imports will be released by state-run Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC) later this month.

(Reporting by Jane Chung; Editing by Joseph Radford)