TEHRAN (Tasnim) South Koreas oil imports from Iran fell 12 percent in March from a year earlier, customs data showed on Monday, but the monthly intake was still the highest since the country resumed buying Iranian oil in January. - Economy news -
South Korea, one of Iran's biggest Asian customers, imported 1.2 million tons of crude oil from Iran in March, or 284,639 barrels per day (bpd), versus 1.37 million tons a year earlier, the data showed, Reuters reported.
That was up 23 percent from February and more than a five-fold increase from January as buying has ramped up.
For the first three months, South Korea's imports of Iranian crude were down 29.8 percent at 2.4 million tons, or 196,303 bpd, compared with 3.45 million tons over the same period last year, according to the data.
South Korea is one of the eight countries that received six-month waivers from the United States in November and can buy up to 200,000 bpd of oil from Iran, mostly condensate, or an ultra-light form of crude oil.
Across the five months from November through March, South Korea imported about 117,000 bpd on average of Iranian oil, according to the report.
The sanctions waiver is due to expire in early May and South Korea has been in talks with the United States to extend its waiver to continue to source oil from Iran.
In total, South Korea's March crude oil imports were 11.5 million tons, or 2.72 million bpd, up 5.8 percent from 10.9 million tons a year earlier.
Oil shipments from the United States were more than seven times higher in March at 1 million tons, from 134,911 tons a year earlier, according to the data.
Imports from Saudi Arabia, the country's top crude oil supplier, fell 9.5 percent to 2.7 million tons, from a year earlier, the data showed.
For the first quarter of the year, crude oil imports increased 1.2 percent to about 37.2 million tons year-on-year.