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South Korea’s January crude imports from iran fall

SEOUL: South Korea’s crude oil imports from Iran fell 47% in January from a year ago to 950,013 tons, or 224,632 barrels per day, the lowest since October 2016, customs data showed on Thursday.  The fall in South Korea’s Iranian oil intake partly reflects the sinking last month of an Iranian tanker carrying 136,000 tons of condensate after a collision with a Chinese cargo ship. The bodies of three crew members were retrieved and the other 29 members went under when the tanker sank, Reuters reported.  The condensate cargo was to be delivered to South Korea’s petrochemical company, Hanwha Total Petrochemical.  South Korea, the world’s fifth-biggest crude oil importer, mainly buys condensate an ultra-light oil from Iran and increased purchases of the oil after sanctions against the Islamic Republic were lifted in 2016.  But South Korea’s oil imports from Iran have declined since November 2017, as Iran’s condensate exports had been dented by a technical problem at the South Pars Gas Field.  The Middle East country cut the official selling price for its crude in February and widened discounts for heavy grades against Saudi Arabia to retain its major Asian buyers.  Overall, South Korea’s January crude oil imports totaled 13.25 million tons, or 3.13 million bpd, up 7.1% from 12.37 million tons in the same month last year, according to the data.  Crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia, South Korea’s top crude oil supplier, rose 11.2% from a year ago to 3.69 million tons in January, or 872,840 bpd, but were down 7.8% on December as the kingdom continues to curb its oil output to comply with a global oil supply cut deal.