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South Korea Imported 42% Fewer Oil Cargoes From Iran in July

South Korea’s crude imports from Iran fell 42 percent in July from a year earlier, the Customs Service said.

The world’s fifth-largest oil buyer purchased 591,465 metric tons of oil, or about 140,000 barrels a day, from Iran last month, compared with 1.02 million tons, or about 242,000 barrels daily, a year ago, according to data on the service’s website today. Iran accounted for 5.5 percent of the total crude supply in July, the figures showed. South Korean imports from the Persian Gulf nation were 20 percent less than the 736,522 tons bought in June, according to the service.

South Korea won a renewable, 180-day exemption from U.S. financial sanctions on its banks after it demonstrated it had “significantly reduced” its purchases of Iranian oil. The East Asian country failed to win a dispensation from a European Union embargo that started July 1 that includes a ban on the insurance of tankers carrying Iranian crude. Purchases slid 24 percent to 5.39 million tons in the first seven months of this year compared with the same period in 2011.

Iran has offered to use its own tankers to supply oil, a South Korean government official said June 29, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential. SK Innovation Co. and Hyundai Oilbank Co., the only buyers of Iranian crude in the Asian country, are set to conclude talks with Iran to use its vessels for imports, officials at the refiners said on Aug. 9.

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