South Korean imports of crude and condensates fell to a two-year low 2.894mn b/d in Q2, with volumes from the Middle East down 5% quarter-on-quarter and 8%, year-on-year (MEES, 12 July). The Middle East’s share has fallen precipitously from 86.4% over 2016 to just 73.4% in the second quarter of 2019. This is largely due to Seoul offering importers a rebate of part of the freight costs for the purchase of non-Middle East supplies, a policy which will run to 2021 (MEES, 17 May).

Korea imported zero cargoes from Iran in June, the second consecutive month, after US waiver’s expired. And it is the US which is largely benefiting from Korea’s demand for light crude and condensate. Korea imported a record 324,800 b/d from the US in the second quarter of 2019, as the country’s number four supplier trailing number three Iraq (359,400 b/d), number two Kuwait (400,600 b/d) and top supplier Saudi Arabia (855,600 b/d). (CONTINUED - 151 WORDS)