Official data show that South Korea more than doubled its crude oil imports from the Islamic Republic of Iran in April month-on-month.

Citing customs data, Reuters reported on Thursday that South Korea’s crude imports from Iran stood at 552,884 tonnes or 135,088 barrels per day (bpd) in April, up from 274,808 tonnes the month before.

South Korea took 2.2 million tonnes, or roughly 136,000 bpd, in the first four months of 2014 from the Islamic republic, down 8 percent from the same period in 2013 and slightly more than the average 134,000 bpd for all of last year.

According to Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC), Iran is the fifth largest crude oil supplier to South Korea after Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and Qatar.

Earlier in March, South Korea made a first payment of USD 550 million to Iran for oil imports following partial relief in sanctions against the country in line with a nuclear deal inked between Tehran and the P5+1 group – Russia, China, France, Britain, the US and Germany – in Geneva, Switzerland, in November 2013.

Under the interim deal, the six countries agreed to ease some of the existing sanctions against the Islamic Republic in exchange for Iran agreeing to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities during a six-month period.

World oil giants, including Royal Dutch Shell, British Petroleum (BP), Malaysia’s Petronas, Spain’s Repsol, Russia’s second largest oil producer Lukoil, France’s Total and Italy’s Eni, have shown interest in returning to Iran following the partial sanctions relief.

News ID 186622