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South Korea’s March Crude Oil Imports Fall 8.6% by Volume

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April 1 (Bloomberg) -- South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest oil importer, purchased 8.6 percent less crude oil last month as unit purchase prices increased.

Crude imports fell to 73.2 million barrels from 80.1 million a year earlier, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in an e-mailed statement today. The country’s import bill rose 4.5 percent to $8.87 billion as purchase prices climbed 14 percent to $121.2 a barrel, the ministry said, citing preliminary figures for last month.

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. Large companies, which use 30 percent of the nation’s electricity, pledged to cut consumption by 5 percent a year after the government imposed rolling blackouts in September for the first time since 2001.

Gas import costs increased 19.5 percent to $3.13 billion in March, while coal costs gained 1.7 percent to $1.53 billion, according to the ministry.

South Korea’s oil-product exports rose 7.6 percent to $4.71 billion and petrochemical exports fell 5.8 percent to $3.7 billion, the ministry said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Seonjin Cha in Seoul at scha2@bloomberg.net; Sangim Han in Seoul at sihan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Tighe at ptighe@bloomberg.net

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