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Korea cut crude imports from conflict-ridden Iraq in July

South Korean refiners reduced imports of crude oil from Iraq on-year in July when the Middle East country became mired in internal conflict, while increasing crude imports from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, data showed Thursday.

South Korea imported 5.36 million barrels of Iraq crude oil in July, down 40.3 percent from 8.99 million barrels a year ago and 13.9 percent from 6.23 million barrels in June, according to the data by the state-run Korea National Oil Corp.

By company, GS Caltex bought 4.36 million barrels and Hyundai Oilbank purchased about 1 million barrels. SK Energy has suspended oil imports from Iraq since April.

Instead, Korean refiners increased crude shipments from other Middle East oil suppliers.

Qatar became South Korea’s third-largest crude provider, rising by one notch, as Asia’s fourth-largest economy expanded its crude imports from the Middle East country to 10.3 million barrels in July, up 57 percent from a year ago, data showed.

South Korea’s crude imports from its No.1 supplier, Saudi Arabia, rose to 25.1 million barrels in July from 25.1 million barrels in June.

Despite the prolonged strife in Iraq since May, industry watchers said the recent price drop in Dubai crude, which accounts for 80 percent of South Korea’s oil imports, helped curb inflation in domestic petroleum products. (Yonhap)