South Korea has resumed imports of Iranian crude oil after halting them in July due to Western sanctions targeting Tehran’s nuclear programme, a report said today.

SK Energy, the refining arm of SK Innovation Co, received a shipment of two million barrels in an Iranian tanker earlier this week, a company official told Dow Jones Newswires.

Another refiner, Hyundai Oilbank, expects to receive a shipment of two million barrels this month, said another company official who declined to be named.

Both refiners had stopped imports of crude oil from Iran after July 1 when European sanctions effectively cut off access to insurance on Iranian shipments.

The resumption came after Tehran offered to insure the shipments itself.

The South bought 9.4 per cent of its crude oil from Iran last year. It had been sharply reducing purchases this year in return for a waiver from separate US sanctions on Tehran.

South Korea is a close ally of the United States, which stations 28,500 troops in the country to deter any North Korean attack.

But Iran is the South’s third-largest trade market in West Asia. Tehran warned in June it would reconsider ties with Seoul if it stopped oil imports.

(This article was published on October 5, 2012)
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