Korea may use Iranian oil tankers

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Korea may use Iranian oil tankers

Korea is considering accepting Iran’s proposal to supply oil to Seoul using its own oil tankers, a government source said yesterday, after oil imports from Tehran were halted due to the European Union’s ban on insuring Iranian oil shipments.

Iran has proposed that Korean oil refiners use Tehran’s own oil tankers, a move that would allow them to receive crude shipments without concerns over insurance guarantees, the source said on the condition of anonymity.

“Korean oil refiners and the Iranian side have been in consultations over the matter of using Iranian-flagged oil tankers to resume oil shipments,” the source said.

If the consultations go well, Korean oil refiners could resume oil imports from late this month or early next month, the source said.

The insurance embargo, which came into force on Sunday, is part of the EU’s broader sanctions against Iran for its nuclear programs. Korea has long prepared for the anticipated European sanctions by arranging alternative suppliers.

Seoul bought about 87 million barrels, or 9.4 percent, of its total oil demand from Tehran last year. In the first five months of this year, Iranian crude imports dropped 16 percent to 29.2 million barrels, according to government data.

Although Japan, one of the major importers of Iranian oil along with Korea, passed a law to offer government guarantees on insurance for Iranian crude shipments, Seoul has not been considering such a measure, officials said. Korea secured a waiver from new U.S. financial sanctions against Iran on June 12 after significantly cutting its imports of Iranian crude oil this year.

Last week, the Iranian ambassador to Korea, Ahmad Masumifar, warned that Tehran could halt all imports of goods from Korea in response to Seoul’s suspension of Iranian oil imports.

Tehran “may decide to fully stop importing Korean goods,” the ambassador told Yonhap News Agency in an interview. Yonhap

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