Korea keeps its sanctions waiver for Iran trade

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Korea keeps its sanctions waiver for Iran trade

Korea’s Iranian crude imports rose in November from October, but still met a target of a 15 percent cut in shipments for June-November, which ensured it secured an extension of a U.S. sanctions waiver.

The U.S. Department of State extended a six-month Iranian sanctions’ waiver at the end of November to China, India, Korea and other countries as a reward for them reducing purchases of Iranian crude oil earlier this year.

The waiver extension came after the United States and five other global powers, known as the P5+1, agreed in Geneva to pause efforts to reduce Iran’s crude oil sales, allowing consuming countries to continue buying their “current average amounts of crude oil.”

It is not yet clear the level of oil imports allowed from December onwards, as U.S. guidelines are awaited.

Korea imported 532,851 tons of Iranian crude last month, or 130,193 barrels per day (bpd), up 26.7 from October, but down 34.6 from a year earlier, preliminary customs data showed on Sunday.

That makes Korea’s crude imports from Iran for June-November 125,769 bpd, according to Reuters calculations, meeting the 125,814 bpd sanctions waiver target.

Seoul has vowed to slash Iranian oil imports by 15 percent from the 148,016 bpd imported in December 2012 to May 2013, two sources told Reuters in June.

Korea’s Iranian crude imports vary from month to month as one of the two Korean refiners that buys from Iran receives oil only every other month. Imports unexpectedly jumped in July from a year earlier before dropping off again in August.

SK Energy and Hyundai Oilbank are the only Korean refiners that take Iranian oil on a regular basis.

Korea, the world’s fifth-largest crude buyer, imported a total of 10.2 million tons of crude last month against 11.1 million tons in November 2012, data from the Korea Customs Service also showed on Sunday.

Final data for Korea’s crude oil imports last month will be published by state-run Korea National Oil Corporation later this month.


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