According to the preliminary customs data, South Korea decreased its imports of crude oil from Iran by 50 percent between February 2014 and February 2015. Moreover, Iranian exports to South Korea have been affected by international sanctions since the beginning of this year. Last month, Teheran shipped more than 550,000 tons of crude oil to the Asian country compared to 1.1 million tons a year ago. Last year, Iran exported 6.2 million tons, which was a decrease by 7 percent compared to 2013.
The world’s major economies have already initiated talks about a United Nations Security Council resolution to relax UN sanctions on Iran if a nuclear agreement is signed. Under current restrictions, major Asian buyers, including South Korea, ought to keep their crude imports from Iran at end-2013 levels. Teheran commented earlier this month that it would increase exports if sanctions were removed. Out of South Korea’s four refiners, only two companies import oil from Iran – SK Energy Co Ltd and Hyundai Oilbank Co Ltd – and their imports vary from month to month. Last month, the country imported more than 10 million tons of crude last month.
Petroleum industry is an important part of Iran’s economy. In 2009, the sector accounted for 60 percent of the state revenue and 80 percent of the annual value of both exports and foreign currency earnings. In 2012, Iran was the second largest exporter within the OPEC group and in the same year, Iranian authorities said that the country’s oil and gas revenue could reach $250 billion by 2015. Teheran is also planning to invest about $500 billion in the sector by 2025.