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Asia Can't Seem to Escape Its Addiction to Middle East Oil

  • Faster shipping, low prices help Mideast retain hold on Asia
  • Many Asian refineries designed to process Middle East crude
An engineer walks across the Zubair oil field in southern Iraq on January 21, 2010. Zubair produces around 227,000 barrels of oil per day, according to information released by Iraq's oil ministry last year, and has reserves of around four billion barrels. A consortium led by Italian energy giant ENI -including China's Sinopec, Occidental Petroleum Corporation of the United States and Korea Gas Corporation of South Korea- have agreed to terms with the Iraqi government to exploit the Zubair. AFP PHOTO / ESSAM AL-SUDANI (Photo credit should read ESSAM -AL-SUDANI/AFP/Getty Images)
Photographer: ESSAM -AL-SUDANI/AFP/Getty Images
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Even in a world awash with crude, buyers in the world’s biggest oil market can’t seem to escape their addiction to Middle East supplies.

South Korea’s imports from the Middle East climbed last year to the highest level since at least 1980, while refiners in India say they are shunning shipments from distant ports and taking more cargoes from the Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia and Oman have boosted supplies to China this year as volumes from Venezuela and Colombia to Asia’s biggest crude consumer have shrunk.