South Korea doubles LPG imports from Iran

Azerbaijan, Baku , Nov.12/ Trend F.Milad/

South Korea has increased its LPG imports from Iran by 100 percent in September compared to the same month previous year, the Mehr News Agency reported.

Based on the reports, 3 Korean companies have totally imported 1.3 million barrels of LPG from Iran in September.

It is while Iran's monthly LPG exports to Korea stood at 765,000 barrels before the new round of European Union (EU) sanctions.

South Korea is set to resume oil imports from Iran this month after crude cargoes were halted by EU sanctions in the previous two months, Reuters reported earlier this month.

The shipments will be transported under Iranian insurance cover to avoid sanctions targeting Tehran's nuclear program, the report said.

The world's fifth largest importer of crude oil, and one of Iran's biggest oil customers, imported 38.77 million barrels of crude oil from Iran in the first nine months of this year, down 41.3% year-on-year, according to data from the state-run Korea National Oil Corp.

Almost 24 hours after the EU imposed new sanctions on Iran's gas exports, the European officials began to discuss on exempting Norwegian Statoil ASA company from ban on importing Iranian liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and other gas products.

Finally, the EU officials exempted Statoil ASA, which participated in the development plans of phases 6 to 8 of Iran's South Pars and imported several thousand tons of LPG from Iran, from the sanctions. Statoil ASA (formerly StatoilHydro) was founded by the 2007 merger of Statoil with the oil and gas division of Norsk Hydro.

In October, the European Union officials imposed new sanctions against main Iranian companies in the oil and gas industry, and tightened restrictions on Iran's Central bank (CBI) on the pretext of the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.

The major entities targeted by recent the EU sanctions are the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), one of the largest exporters of crude oil throughout the world, as well as the National Iranian Tanker Company.

EU sanctions on Iran's natural gas have unintentionally also brought its exports of liquefied petroleum gas to a near halt, industry sources say, starving Tehran of yet more dollar revenue and threatening to push European winter fuel bills yet higher.

LPG, which comprises propane and butane, comes mainly from oil rather than natural gas, but shippers and insurers are steering clear of Iranian supplies due to uncertainty over the scope of the new European Union sanctions.

The measures announced by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton are already strangling Iranian LPG exports to countries outside the bloc, notably South Korea.

Officially, the gas sanctions became binding on EU governments from Oct. 16 but technically they do not apply to companies until detailed legislation is prepared and issued. An EU source said this could happen in November.

In the absence of hard and fast EU rules, Iran's LPG customers outside the EU are acting cautiously due to the uncertainty, with the result that shipments are drying up.

All actions imposed by the European countries are taken to halt enriching uranium by the Islamic Republic of Iran. The West powers, above them the United States claim Iran's nuclear program is meant for producing atomic weapons.

But Tehran has categorically rejected such allegation stressing that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran has focused its nuclear activity on civilian purposes including medical research and electricity production.

Iran has the world's second-largest gas reserves, with 29.6 trillion cubic meters, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy which includes 16 percent of the world's gas reserves. Russia has the biggest reserves of the fuel.

Iran is now exporting gas to Turkey and has swap deals with Armenia and Azerbaijan.

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