The world's fifth-largest crude importer brought 859,223 tons of Iranian crude oil last month, or 203,165 barrels per day (bpd), three times higher than 273,626 tons imported a year earlier, the data showed.
That marks the highest imports for January since 2012 when South Korea shipped in 975,967 tons, the data showed. The country, along with other major Iranian crude buyers, had to slash Iranian crude imports from mid-2012, Reuters reported.
Iran’s First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri said on Saturday that Iran’s oil exports will reach two million bpd from the current level of around 1.3 million bpd during the next Iranian Persian calendar year (to start on March 20).
On Sunday, Managing Director of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) Rokneddin Javadi said that Iran has increased its oil production capacity by 400,000 bpd thus almost materializing an earlier pledge to raise output by 500,000 bpd after the removal of the sanctions, Press TV reported.
Javadi has been quoted by the media as saying that the necessary preparations are also being made to increase Iran’s oil output by a further 200,000 bpd.
The announcement came a day after NIOC said it is loading four million barrels of oil for shipment to France, Russia and Spain, the first delivery to European buyers since sanctions were lifted on the country.
Under sanctions, South Korea and other major Iranian crude buyers were required to ship in no more crude than levels imported in 2014.
Seoul bought 5.7 million tons, or 114,595 bpd, of crude from Tehran last year, down 8 percent year-on-year, according to the customs data and Reuters calculations last month.
Overall, South Korea imported 10.84 million tons of crude in January, or 2.56 million bpd. That was 4.6 percent lower than the 11.37 million tons imported a year earlier, according to the customs data.