The latest market figures show that South Korea's imports of Iranian crude oil increased by 67 percent in April from the same month a year earlier.
Figures provided by Reuters show that South Korea brought in 863,557 tons of Iranian crude oil last month, or 210,996 barrels per day (bpd), compared with 516,918 tons a year ago.
In the first four months of the year, the world's fifth-largest crude importer shipped in 3,820,054 tons, or 933,367 bpd, of crude from the Middle Eastern country, versus 1,918,056 tons in the same period in 2015, Reuters added.
The report further added that Iran has set its June official selling prices (OSPs) for heavier crude grades it sells to Asia at the biggest discounts to Saudi and Iraqi oil since 2007-2008, raising the stakes in its fight to regain market share.
Overall, South Korea shipped in nearly 12 million tons of crude last month, or 2.93 million bpd. The total was 13 percent higher than the 10.59 million tons imported in April of 2015, the customs data showed.
South Korea’s media in April quoted informed industry sources as saying that the country intends to more than double its imports of crude oil and natural gas condensate from Iran. The sources that were not named emphasized that the policy is meant to ramp up energy ties with the Islamic Republic.
Last year, South Korea imported $2.20 billion worth of crude oil from Iran, down 51 percent from the previous year and far lower than $9.36 billion in 2011, according to Korea Times.
By volume, imports of crude and condensate came to 42.4 million barrels last year.
However, in the first three months of this year, South Korean imports of Iranian crude jumped 17.6 percent on-year to $629 million, with the volume reaching 22.85 million barrels, the report added.
Imports of Iranian condensate rose more than nine-fold from a year earlier to $247 million in the January-March period. For all of last year, imports of condensate from Iran came to $358 million.
On top of boosting imports of Iranian crude, South Korea will push for a joint project to stockpile two million barrels of Iranian crude and condensate at a storage facility south of Seoul, according to the sources.
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