South Korea to restart Iranian crude imports from September

Fuel BarrelsSouth Korean oil refiners plan to restart imports of Iranian oil after Tehran offered to deliver crude on its own tankers

Iran has also agreed to provide up to US$1bn worth of insurance coverage for the vessels.

South Korean will resume buying crude in September after a two-month hiatus due to a European Union embargo that made shipping the oil difficult.

The refiners have, like their Chinese and Indian counterparts, asked Iran to deliver crude on Iranian tankers, government and industry sources said. This shifts the responsibility to Iran for insurance, sidestepping a ban in the EU on insurers from covering Iranian shipments.

Iran has a major interest in keeping its crude flowing to South Korea, China, India and Japan because they are its top four customers. They buy more than half of its oil exports.

Japan and South Korea, Iran's third- and fourth-biggest oil buyers, both halted imports in July as they scrambled to work out how to continue imports under the EU sanctions, which have made it tough to ship, insure and pay for Iranian oil.

Iran's crude exports dropped to about 1.1mn bpd in June and July from more than two million bpd at the start of the year. At current prices, the lower volume means the loss of some US$110mn a day in export earnings.

South Korea’s imports of Iranian crude fell 17 per cent to 190,000 bpd in the first half of 2012 compared with 2011.

To make up shortfalls of crude, South Korea has been trying to import more from other Middle Eastern countries, including Iraq, the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar.

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