Crude oil imports decline in FebruaryKorea’s U.S. crude oil imports in February fell 2.4 percent from a year earlier, and its total February crude imports dropped 11.6 percent year-on-year as the spreading of the coronavirus in Korea has dented fuel demand, customs data showed on Sunday.
U.S. crude imports were 1.59 million tonnes in February, or 402,434 barrels per day (BPD), compared with 1.63 million tonnes a year earlier, according to the customs data. The United States ranked as Korea’s No. 3 crude supplier.
Korea’s imports of U.S. crude have increased amid the end of U.S. sanction waivers in May 2019, which stopped Korea from purchasing Iranian crude oil, mainly condensate, or an ultralight form of crude oil.
The country’s Iranian oil shipments have remained zero for a 10th consecutive month.
Korea’s February crude oil imports dropped 11.6 percent year-on-year to 11.61 million tonnes, or 2.94 million BPD.
The drop in crude oil imports comes as Korea is coping with the region’s biggest coronavirus outbreak outside of China with more than 8,000 cases.
SK Energy, Korea’s top refiner, said in early March that it would lower its crude distillation unit operations by 10-15 percent in March as exports and domestic demand have been hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
Crude oil shipments from Saudi Arabia, Korea’s top crude oil supplier, were 3.19 million tonnes in February, or 806,220 BPD, down 19.9 percent from 3.98 million tonnes a year earlier.
In the first two months of the year, the world’s fifth-largest crude oil importer shipped in 24.03 million tonnes of crude oil, or 2.92 million BPD, down 6.2 percent from 25.60 million tonnes during the same period a year earlier.
The final crude oil imports data from state-run Korea National Oil is due later this month.