South Korea's imports of crude oil climbed 5.1 percent last year from a year earlier driven by a surge in inbound shipments of Iranian oil following the removal of international trade sanctions on the Middle Eastern country, government data showed Monday.
The combined inbound purchase of crude oil reached 1.78 billion barrels at the end of December, compared with 1.26 billion barrels the previous year, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
The import of petroleum products grew 8.3 percent on-year to 333.4 million barrels in the cited period.
The increase in the country's crude oil imports is largely attributable to a spike in the purchase of Iranian crude oil, the inbound shipments of which grew by nearly three-fold to 111.9 million barrels from 42.4 million barrels over the tallied period, since the lifting of trade sanctions with Iran was declared in early 2016, the ministry said.
The streak of a cheaper crude oil price in the Middle East propelled more purchases by Korean oil importers, with annual shipments growing 9.7 percent on-year to 926.2 million barrels. The Dubai crude oil price sank by an average of 18.3 percent in 2016 from a year earlier.
The inbound shipment of petroleum products also grew 8.3 percent on-year to 333.4 million barrels as of end-2016, fueled by firm demand for naphtha and liquefied petroleum gas.
Meanwhile, South Korea's export of oil products amounted to 488.1 million barrels at the end of last year, up 2.3 percent from 477.4 million barrels a year ago, on the back of an increase in the shipments to Africa and Europe.
The outbound shipments to China, the biggest buyer of South Korean oil products, soared 26.7 percent on-year to 916.5 million barrels in 2016, led by strong demand for diesel, air fuel and asphalt, according to the data. (Yonhap)