Oil imports, consumption rise

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Oil imports, consumption rise

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Korea’s crude oil imports and consumption rose significantly in the second quarter compared to last year, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said Wednesday, a result of sanctions on Iran being lifted earlier this year and falling oil prices.

Korea imported 266 million barrels of crude oil in the second quarter, up 4.5 percent year on year. Oil imported from Iran rose 123.3 percent to 25.4 million barrels during the same period.

“Imports and exports of crude oil rose in the second half compared to the previous year after sanctions on Iran were lifted and demand in general rose globally with the fall in crude prices,” said Park Jae-young, a director at the ministry.

Korea exported 124 billion barrels of crude oil in the second quarter, a 9.5 percent increase from last year’s 112.7 billion barrels.

“Average Dubai oil prices fell 28.5 percent from $60.49 per barrel in the second quarter of last year to $43.23 this year, and this helped the demand to go up,” Park said.

Although the number of barrels exported rose, the amount made from the exports fell due lower prices. Korea exported $6.22 billion worth of crude this year, a 23.6 percent drop from last year’s $8.14 billion.

China was the main importer of Korean oil products, accounting for 21 percent of total export volume, followed by Singapore (16 percent), Australia (10 percent) and Japan (8 percent).

Korea’s oil consumption also increased compared to the previous year, marking 217.1 million barrels in the second quarter, up 7.3 percent from the previous year’s 202.4 million barrels.

By sector, industry consumption rose 7.3 percent, and transportation went up 5.3 percent.

“Oil consumption for transportation use increased as demand rose due to lower prices and more people traveling this year compared to last year,” Park said. “We also believe that people traveling in general rose compared to last year because the country was hit by the Middle East Respiratory syndrome last summer.”

Household consumption including for heating and cooking rose 3.2 percent.

By type, gasoline and diesel consumption rose 6.7 percent, and the ministry cited the growing number of vehicles in the country as one of the main reasons for the increased use. The number of cars registered in Korea rose 4.2 percent from 20.2 million in the second quarter of last year to 21 million this year.

In fact, the ministry said diesel consumption in May alone reached an all-time high of 14.3 million barrels.


BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]

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