SK Energy has already loaded another cargo of crude from Iran.
The largest refiner in South Korea, SK Energy, is taking advantage of the relatively newly available oil insurance to load its second crude cargo from Iran, skirting the coverage ban from the European Union that brought the shipments to a standstill for nearly two months.
Two million barrels are being shipped in this second run, while avoiding the sanctions.
The oil insurance was provided by Iran, itself, making it possible to step around the problems that had previously halted virtually all Iranian crude tankers from heading out to sea. Confirmation of the volume being shipped by the ship that is already on its way to South Korea has been confirmed from multiple sources, including a spokesperson from SK Energy.
An economy ministry source from South Korea stated that “SK Energy lifted its second cargo in Iran last week,” though it was pointed out that the first of the tankers has not yet arrived in the country.
SK Energy and SK Innovations, the parent company, would not comment on the shipments or oil insurance.
The South Korean government source also indicated that Hyundai Oilbank, another refiner, also has intentions to use Iranian oil insurance in order to bring in two million barrels from the Middle Eastern country by the end of September.
The refiners in South Korea are planning to bring their monthly imports from September up to 6 million barrels (that is, 200,000 barrels per day) of full contracted Iran crude volumes. It isn’t likely that resuming the crude imports and using the Iranian oil insurance will have any impact on South Korea’s intention to broaden an American sanction waiver in December, 2012. This is because the imports of the oil from this year are still significantly lower than they had been in 2011.
South Korea is the fifth largest importer of crude in the world and became the first of the major Asian importers of Iranian product to make the announcements that it would be ceasing its shipments because of the European Union’s oil insurance ban that started on July 1.