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South Korea’s January Crude Oil Imports Fall 5.2% by Volume

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Feb. 1 (Bloomberg) -- South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest oil importer, purchased 5.2 percent less crude last month, the first decline since August.

Crude imports fell to 79.9 million barrels from 84.3 million a year earlier, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in an e-mailed statement today, without giving reasons for the drop. The country’s import bill gained 18 percent to $9 billion as prices rose 24 percent to $112.8 a barrel, the ministry said.

South Korea, which imports almost all of its oil needs, urged companies and individuals in November to save energy in winter, including cutting back on heating. The country’s large companies, using 30 percent of the nation’s electricity, pledged to cut consumption by 5 percent a year after South Korea imposed rolling blackouts in September for the first time since 2001.

Natural gas import costs fell 18 percent to $2.66 billion in January, while coal costs gained 24 percent to $1.64 billion, according to the ministry.

South Korea’s oil-product exports rose 40 percent to $4.35 billion, the ministry said, citing values for the first 20 days of the month. Shipments to China almost doubled, followed by a 35 percent gain in exports to Southeast Asia and a 14 percent increase to Japan. Shipments to the U.S. and European Union dropped 25 percent and 91 percent, respectively.

Petrochemical exports fell 3 percent to $3.4 billion.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sangim Han in Seoul at sihan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Amit Prakash at aprakash1@bloomberg.net.

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