South Korea's oil consumption fell for the first time in five years in 2013 as the country used more electricity and city gas to meet its heating and miscellaneous energy needs, data showed Thursday.
According to numbers provided by the Korea National Oil Corp. (KNOC), petroleum product consumption reached around 826.84 million barrels last year, a 0.1 percent dip from the tally taken for 2012.
The KNOC said the last time oil product consumption contracted was in 2008 as the global financial crisis fueled economic uncertainties and caused people and industries to cut back on spending.
The state-run corporation said sales of kerosene fell 14.5 percent on-year, with bunker-C and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) figures dropping 16.1 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.
It said sales of bunker-C oil, used as fuel by large commercial vessels, was hard hit, due to overall sluggishness in the shipping industry. More demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) and a greater number of factories and homes using city gas have hurt sales overall.
On the other hand, it said sales of gasoline, diesel fuel used for cars, and naphtha used by the petrochemical sector did grow last year compared to the year before.
"If naphtha is excluded, on the other hand, oil product consumption in 2013 dropped 0.6 percent from the previous year to little over 440.20 million barrels," KNOC said.
It said non-naphtha consumption numbers have been falling for three years straight, as other energy sources become more prominent.
A KNOC source said that since 1997, when the country was rocked by the Asian financial crisis, oil consumption has only grown very slowly. He added that while petroleum met 60.4 percent of the country's energy needs in 1997, it recently stood at just 38.1 percent, with the slack being taken up by electricity and natural gas.
South Korea generates a considerable portion of its electricity using nuclear power, and is one of the largest importers of natural gas in the world. (Yonhap)