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South Korea has bowed to pressure from the US government and become the first major buyer to halt oil imports from Iran. Seoul had been an increasingly important customer for Iran and took record volumes in 2017.
The 361,000 b/d that South Korea imported from Iran over the course of 2017 was more than any country bar China and India. This marked the third consecutive year in which the country has held the number three spot.
But as political storm clouds gathered over the Iranian nuclear deal, South Korea appeared to get nervous and volumes in 1Q 2018 were the lowest since 2Q 2016. Then in July, South Korea lifted no crude or condensate cargoes from Iran’s export terminals according to data from vessel tracker Marine Traffic.
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