Sun Jan 15, 2017 11:37AM
An aerial view of Iran's Lavan oil field in the Persian Gulf. (Photo by Shana)
An aerial view of Iran's Lavan oil field in the Persian Gulf. (Photo by Shana)

Official figures show South Korea’s imports of oil from Iran last December soared about eight times greater than a year ago – what may be a yet another indication that the Islamic Republic is getting a stronger position in the global oil market in a post-sanctions era.   

Figures released by South Korea’s customs office also showed that the country’s imports from Iran for 2016 more than doubled from 2015 levels.

South Korea is one of Iran's major oil customers. Seoul imported 14 million tons, or 281,187 bpd, of crude from Tehran in 2016, up 145.4 percent from 5.7 million tons, or 114,595 bpd, in 2015, Reuters reported.

Figures also show that the world's fifth-largest crude importer brought 1.55 million tons of Iranian crude in December, or 367,317 barrels per day (bpd), compared with 207,629 tons a year ago and 1.73 million tons in the previous month.    

In November, South Korea's Iranian crude imports more than quadrupled from a year earlier as Hyundai Chemical's new condensate splitter boosted the country's ultra-light oil demand from Iran, Reuters added.

Earlier, official figures showed that Seoul’s imports of oil from Iran in the third quarter of 2016 had doubled compared to the same period the previous year.

Iran had been one of the biggest crude oil exporters to South Korea.  South Korea imported $9.36 billion worth of crude from Iran before the implementation of US-engineered sanctions against the Islamic Republic in 2011.  The sanctions – that were in place until the end of 2015 - lowered the imports of Iranian crude to $2.27 billion.

After the removal of the sanctions in January, South Korea has been increasingly stepping up its imports of crude oil from Iran.