South Korea, one of Iran’s biggest Asian customers, imported 1.2 million tons of crude oil from Iran in March, or 284,639 barrels per day (bpd), up 23% from February and more than a five-fold increase from January as buying has ramped up, Reuters reported.
For the first three months, South Korea’s imports of Iranian crude were down 29.8% at 2.4 million tons, or 196,303 bpd, compared with 3.45 million tons over the same period last year, according to the data.
South Korea is one of the eight countries that received six-month waivers from the United States in November, after Washington unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions. The waiver allows South Korea to buy up to 200,000 bpd of oil from Iran, mostly condensate, or an ultra-light form of crude oil.
Across the five months from November through March, South Korea imported about 117,000 bpd on average of Iranian oil, according to Reuters calculation based on the customs data.
The sanctions waiver is due to expire in early May and South Korea has been in talks with Washington to extend its waiver to continue to source oil from Iran.