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S.Korean Aug imports of Iran oil fall to lowest since Dec 2015

South Korea’s Iranian crude oil imports fell in August to their lowest since December 2015, as buyers cut purchases with U.S. sanctions on Tehran due to kick in from November.

In August, South Korea imported 232,723 tonnes of Iranian crude, or 55,028 barrels per day (bpd), down 85 percent from 1.55 million last year, customs data showed on Saturday.

That was the lowest since imports of 207,629 tonnes in December 2015.

South Korea, typically one of the main Asian buyers of Iranian oil, had been expected to halt imports after Washington asked buyers to halt purchases by November, to try to force Tehran to negotiate a new nuclear agreement.

The data is based on customs clearance and there could be a time discrepancy between clearance and goods’ arrival. Thomson Reuters shipping data shows South Korea has not imported any oil from Iran since August.

South Korea’s oil imports from Iran dropped 41.4 percent to 7.15 million tonnes, or 215,807 bpd, during the first eight months of the year versus the corresponding 2017 period, data shows.

Early in September, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. government might consider waivers to Iran oil buyers where appropriate, but Iranian oil purchases must go to zero eventually. South Korea has been in talks with Washington in hopes of getting a waiver to buy some Iranian crude.

South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest crude oil importer, brought in a total of 12.62 million tonnes of crude in August, or 2.98 million bpd, down about 7 percent from 13.55 million a year earlier.

In August, South Korea stepped up purchases of oil from the United States and Australia to replace Iranian oil. U.S. crude imports increased five-fold to 887,559 tonnes on the year, while imports from Australia nearly quadrupled to 305,347 tonnes.

In the first eight months of the year, South Korea shipped in 99.62 million tonnes of crude, or 3.0 million bpd, up 1.5 percent on the year.

State-run Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC) will release final data on August crude oil imports later this month.

Source: Reuters

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