Overall Saudi Arabia (with 827,000 b/d) retained its place as Korea’s top crude supplier in January, ahead of Kuwait (473,000 b/d) and Iraq (447,000 b/d), the same top three as for 2018 as a whole when all three supplied record volumes: 875,000 b/d for Saudi Arabia, 447,000 b/d for Kuwait and 391,000 b/d for Iraq (see MEES, 11 January for full 2018 data).

Despite this, the market share of both the Middle East and Opec has been on the slide: at 74.4% and 77.6% respectively for 2018, both figures were the lowest in well over a decade. The key winner has been the USA from where Korea imported 157,000 b/d in 2018, up more than 120,000 b/d on 2017 volumes, including a record 434,000 b/d in December and 269,000 b/d in January. Volumes from Algeria also more than doubled to 44,200 b/d, translating into a 41.5% rise to $1.264bn in Algeria’s export earnings from Korea. Both Algeria’s Saharan Blend and Eagle Ford condensate, the key grade Korean refiners have taken from the US, are seen as replacement barrels for Iranian South Pars condensate. (CONTINUED - 177 WORDS)