0159 GMT January 29, 2020
South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest crude oil importer, shipped in 1.56 million tons of US crude oil in November, or 382,357 barrels per day (bpd), according to the customs data. That was up 80.4 percent from 867,687 tons a year earlier, but down 12.9 percent from nearly 1.8 million tons in October, Reuters reported.
The US was South Korea’s No.4 crude oil supplier in November after Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq.
“November South Korea’s US crude volume was actually steady to October,” Emma Li, senior oil analyst with Refinitiv.
But Li said, a rise in freight rates in October, which affected November-loading vessels, would weigh on January and February arrivals.
Freight rates surged in October amid a tanker shortage following US sanctions against Chinese shipper COSCO.
South Korea has imported over one million tons of US crude oil every month this year, hitting the highest monthly intake of 1.91 million tons in July, or 450,838 bpd, the data showed.
South Korea’s US crude imports were 16.09 million tons in the first 11 months of the year, or 353,115 bpd, up 165.3 percent from 6.07 million tons over the same period a year earlier.
Historically one of Asia’s major Iranian oil buyers, South Korea again did not import oil from Iran in November. Iranian crude imports have remained zero since May with the end of waivers on US sanctions on shipments.
Overall, South Korea’s November crude oil imports fell 2.1 percent year-on-year to 12.44 million tons, or 3.04 million bpd, according to the data.
Crude oil shipments from Saudi Arabia, South Korea’s top crude oil supplier, were 3.22 million tons in November, or 787,837 bpd, down 15.9 percent from 3.84 million tons amid ongoing OPEC-led supply cuts.
In the first 11 months of the year, South Korea’s crude oil imports were 131.11 million tons, or 2.88 million bpd, down 3.8 percent from 136.22 million tons.
The country’s final crude oil import data will be released later this month.