Saudi Arabia remains South Korea’s top oil supplier after Iran sanctions

South Korea has bought 209,316 barrels of oil for the first eight months of this year. (AFP)
Updated 10 October 2019

Saudi Arabia remains South Korea’s top oil supplier after Iran sanctions

  • In July, Seoul’s crude shipments from the US almost tripled to 14,782 barrels from the year before

SEOUL: Saudi Arabia remains the largest crude supplier for South Korea in the absence of Iranian oil shipments, according to customs data. 

South Korea’s oil imports from Iran were halted after the US re-imposed sanctions against the Islamic republic in May.

The statistics, released by the Korea National Oil Corporation, show that South Korea bought a total of 209,316 barrels for the first eight months of this year, representing a 7.4 percent increase from a year earlier.

The US has seen an increase in its oil supply to South Korea. The data shows South Korea imported 51 percent more crude from the US.

In July, Seoul’s crude shipments from the US, in particular, almost tripled to 14,782 barrels from the year before.

As a result, the US became South Korea’s second-largest crude oil supplier, overtaking Kuwait for the first time. Over the past eight months, South Korea has imported a total of 86,069 barrels, with the price tag of nearly $5.7 billion.

South Korea’s crude imports from Kazakhstan jumped by 39 percent from the previous year, followed by the UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Oil imports from the UAE increased by 33.7 percent, and Kuwait by 13.8 percent.

South Korean oil refiners have been struggling to find alternative sources of condensate supply. Previously, the Iranian ultra-light oil was favored most by South Korean refiners as a raw material for making petrochemical products.

Before US sanctions were re-imposed, South Korea was the biggest buyer of Iranian condensate with a rich yield of naphtha. 

Hanwha Total Petrochemical is the first South Korean refiner to diversify its source of condensate out of Iran.

According to the company spokesman, the petrochemical firm has ordered 500,000 barrels of condensate from Saudi Arabia.

“The Saudi Arabian condensate was delivered in August, and this is our efforts to diversify the sources of condensate imports,” the spokesman said, asking not to be named. 

Hanwha Total operates a condensate splitter at its factory in South Chungcheong Province to deal with 180,000 barrels of condensate a day, he added.

Earlier, the company said it would increase imports of condensate from Australia and Russia.

Other refiners such as SK Innovation were not immediately available for comment.

In an effort to help local refiners find alternative oil supplies, the South Korean government plans to extend freight rebates for shipments of non-Middle East crude to the end of 2021, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.


Dubai’s Jumeirah eyes Saudi mega-projects

Updated 24 January 2020

Dubai’s Jumeirah eyes Saudi mega-projects

  • NEOM and Red Sea scheme high on group’s ‘address’ list, CEO tells Arab News

DAVOS: Jumeirah, the leading hotels and leisure group in the Middle East, is planning big developments in Saudi Arabia’s “mega-projects,” CEO Jose Silva told Arab News on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos.

“We must be in those locations, but I want to make sure we get the right ‘address.’ Jumeiah always wants to be among the top three sites on any location. If someone convinces me this is the right address, I will jump into it,” he said.

Silva made clear he was thinking primarily about the two big development on the Kingdom’s west coast — the NEOM metropolis and the Red Sea project further south along the coast. He is believed to be in contact with Saudi Arabian tourism authorities and potential partners in the Kingdom.

Silva also said that Jumeirah was keen to open hotels in Makkah and Madinah, which he called “preferred entry” points in the Kingdom. Work has already begun on two sites.

“It is very important for us to acquire the right assets and the right designers. Unless we control the architect, we will not do it. We have to be involved in the design process,” he said.

A big presence in Saudi Arabia would be part of the strategy of “going global” that Silva has advanced in his first two years a head of the UAE-based hotels, leisure and restaurants business, which is owned by the government
of Dubai.

Last year, Jumeirah bought the Capri Palace on the eponymous Italian island, and is also involved in a major expansion plan in Asia, with six new projects underway in China, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Silva is also overseeing a $100 million renovation of the Carlton hotel in London’s Belgravia. Expansion via luxury hotel properties in other European capitals is also being considered.

In Dubai, he has brought in world-class managers to restaurants in the group’s flagship properties in Madinat and Burj Al Arab, with a clutch of “celebrity chefs” in place in restaurants there. 

“We want to be the best brand for ‘destination dining’,” he said.