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South Korea may hike Iran oil imports once sanctions lifted

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South Korea will consider increasing its imports of Iranian crude oil and condensate when sanctions on Tehran are lifted, a senior government official said on Monday.

[SEJONG] South Korea will consider increasing its imports of Iranian crude oil and condensate when sanctions on Tehran are lifted, a senior government official said on Monday.

Woo Tae Hee, deputy minister for trade, who was part of a recent South Korean delegation to Iran seeking possible deals in the oil, gas and construction sectors noted there had been a sharp fall in imports of Iranian oil since the sanctions were imposed.

"Iranian crude has good quality, and its condensate is one we can utilise well," Mr Woo said. "We will consider increasing imports of Iranian oil, which however will only be possible when the sanctions are lifted since they are still present." Additional oil imports would be discussed later, he added.

Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said after the delegation's visit that Seoul agreed to increase its purchases of Iranian oil once a nuclear deal with world powers cleared the way for an easing of international sanctions on Tehran. He did not elaborate the details of the agreement.

The sanctions are unlikely to be removed until next year as the deal requires approval by the US Congress. Nuclear inspectors must also confirm Iran is complying with the deal.

South Korea's Iranian oil imports fell 11 per cent to 111,665 barrels per day in the first seven months of this year from the same period of last year, according to Reuters calculation based upon industry data from state-run Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC) last week.

REUTERS