Crude Oil Imports to South Korea Increased in January by 0.9%

South Korea raised its overseas crude purchases in January by 0.9 percent, the first year-on-year increase since November.

Imports climbed to 80.1 million barrels last month, or about 2.6 million barrels a day, from 79.5 million barrels a year earlier, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in an e-mailed statement. That was the biggest volume since November, when it brought in 80.2 million barrels, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The cost of crude dropped 2.3 percent to $111.90 a barrel from a year earlier, the ministry said, citing preliminary figures. The country in January paid 1.4 percent less for its imports at $8.97 billion.

Asia’s fourth-largest economy exported almost half of the crude that it imported in 2012 after refining it into gasoline, diesel and other fuels, according to data from Korea National Oil Corp. Oil products accounted for 10.3 percent of Korea’s 2012 exports, becoming the biggest contributor, followed by semiconductors, the ministry said Jan. 1.

Overseas shipments of oil products climbed 12 percent in January from the previous year to $4.93 billion, according to today’s report. Petrochemical exports were valued at $4.21 billion, up 18 percent from a year ago.

Imports of liquefied natural gas cost $3.59 billion in January, up 38 percent from the same month a year earlier. The amount paid for coal shipments fell 35 percent to $1.07 billion, the ministry said.