0650 GMT April 21, 2019
South Korea is one of Iran’s biggest Asian customers which won a six-month waiver in November from US sanctions but it resumed imports of Iranian oil in January after a four-month gap.
Last month, Korean refiners imported $476 million worth of crude from Iran, more than four times the volumes posted in January, data from the Korea Customs Service showed on Tuesday.
South Korean companies imported $101.2 million in Iranian crude in January, less than one-fifth of $539 million worth of Iran purchases which the world’s fifth-largest crude importer averaged monthly in the first seven months of 2018.
Among Korean refiners, Hanwha Total Petrochemical Company has already bought 12 million barrels of Iranian oil for delivery in February to April.
Condensate accounts for nearly 70 percent of South Korean imports of Iranian crude, according to Yonhap. Iranian condensate took up 51 percent of Seoul's total condensate imports during the first quarter of last year, it said.
Condensate is an ultra light oil which is mainly used as a raw material to make petrochemicals like plastics. Asian customers favor Iran's South Pars condensate for its rich naphtha yield, a stable supply and price competitiveness.
Before the sanctions, South Korea was the biggest client of Iranian condensate with 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) on top of 100,000 bpd of crude oil.
The US waiver allows South Korea to purchase 200,000 bpd of condensate for use in several refiners which are designed to process the Iranian grade.
SK Incheon Petrochem, Hyundai Chemical, Hanwha Total Petrochemicals and Lotto Chemical are regular buyers of Iranian condensate.