South Korea has turned to alternative sources to replace its oil imports from Iran, which were halted in May when waivers on US sanctions against the Islamic republic expired, as per Arab News. South Korea is the world’s fifth-largest crude oil importer, and was one of the countries granted a waiver by the US when President Donald Trump’s administration re-imposed sanctions on Iran last November. Customs data shows South Korea’s imports of Iranian crude for January through May were 3.87 mln tons (187,179 bpd), compared to 5.45 mln tons in the same period last year.
South Korea is the biggest buyer of Iranian condensate, an ultra-light oil that is low in sulfur and produces no residue, and is used as a raw material for the manufacture of petrochemicals. Iranian condensate is also cheaper than condensate from other countries, such as Qatar, and provides a higher yield of heavy naptha. SK Incheon Petrochem, Hyundai Oilbank and Hanwha Total Petrochemical have turned to other countries, including Qatar and Russia, to replace Iranian condensate.