Dec 21 2012
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UPDATE 1-S.Korea Jan-Nov Iran crude imports down 39 pct y/y
* Total crude import at 80.21 mln bbls in Nov -KNOC
* Imports 5.87 mln bbls of crude in Nov from Iran
* Jan-Nov crude imports from Iran at 50.42 mln bbls
By Meeyoung Cho
SEOUL, Dec 21 (Reuters) - South Korea's imports of crude oil from Iran dropped 39 percent from a year ago in the first eleven months of the year after sanctions squeezed shipments, data from state-run Korea National Oil Corp showed on Friday.
Of this total, it imported 5.87 million barrels or 195,700 barrels per day (bpd) from Iran in November, down 29.8 percent on the year, the data showed. Total shipments from Iran over the first 11 months was 50.42 million barrels or 150,513 bpd.
South Korea is one of Iran's biggest oil customers, but imports have been hit hard as European Union sanctions made it tough to ship, insure and pay for the oil. The West has imposed sanctions on Iran as it suspects Tehran wants to develop nuclear weapons, a claim Iran denies.
South Korean refiners resumed imports of Iranian crude oil late in September for October arrivals after a two-month halt, importing about 200,000 bpd or full contracted volumes, after finding a way around the European Union ban on insurance cover.
Of four Korean refiners, SK Energy and Hyundai Oilbank which import Iranian crude will cut imports of Iranian crude during the six months to May jointly by about a fifth from a year ago, to avoid sanctions by Washington, government and industry sources told Reuters earlier this month.
The United States on Dec. 7 granted 180-day waivers on Iran sanctions to China, India, South Korea and some other countries after they cut oil purchases from Iran.
Preliminary customs data from the economy ministry showed at the start of this month that South Korea's crude oil imports in November rose 10.5 percent from a year earlier to 81.0 million barrels.
(Editing by Himani Sarkar)
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Keywords: OIL KOREA/IRAN
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