Petrochemicals form 10% of exports

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Petrochemicals form 10% of exports

Petroleum products led Korea’s exports in the first quarter of this year mainly due to higher crude prices, a local industry organization said yesterday.

The findings by the Korea Petroleum Association showed the country shipping out $13.67 billion worth of refined oil products in the first three months of this year, up a sharp 27.8 percent from a year earlier.

The total is equivalent to 10.1 percent of the country’s exports in the January-March period that reached $134.95 billion, it said.

Autos followed at 9.5 percent, with ships and semiconductors accounting for 9.1 percent and 8.9 percent of the country’s exports, respectively.

The ranking for petroleum products marks a one-notch increase from 2011, when petroleum products came in second after ships.

The association, which represents the interests of local refineries, said the spike in crude oil prices played a decisive role in pushing up exports. More expensive crude causes refined product prices to go up correspondingly.

The average price for a barrel of crude brought into the country reached $116.1 in the January-March period, up 15.6 percent from the year prior. In the first quarter of 2011, local refiners paid $100.4 for a barrel of crude brought in from abroad.

Resource-poor Korea has to bring in oil from overseas that is then refined by local petrochemical plants for both domestic consumption and exports.

Most petroleum products shipped abroad were gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

China was the largest overseas market, purchasing 28.4 percent of all petroleum products shipped out. It was followed by Japan, Singapore and Indonesia.

In a related move, Korea will closely cooperate with the international community to fight speculation in crude oil, the prime culprit for the recent surge in the cost of the key commodity, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance said yesterday.

The ministry said Korea will try to drum up international support for crafting regulations on the global derivatives market at a Group of 20 finance ministers’ meeting scheduled for Washington on Thursday.

International crude prices have been hitting record highs due to the confluence of a showdown over Iran’s nuclear program, a drop in excess capacity of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and increased demand from emerging economies.

Yonhap

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