The government of South Korea is preparing to issue a payment to Iran for crude imports as limited relief from sanctions in line with a six-month deal over Iran’s nuclear program gets underway, making it the second country to so do after Japan, Reuters reports.
In December 2013, South Korean’s crude oil imports from Iran increased over the previous months, according to Reuters, and the Iranian central bank has up to $5.6 billion in South Korea, in two won-denominated accounts.
The news agency quoted an unnamed source as saying that South Korea’s payment to Iran would likely be made in early March, but no amount was indicated.
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South Korea reportedly imported 557,836 tons of Iranian crude oil last December—nearly 132,000 barrels per day—representing a 5% increase over November 2013.
Earlier this month, Japan became the first country to make a payment to Iran under the conditions of eased sanctions.
India and China also buy crude oil from Iran and have billions of dollars held in Iranian accounts pending transfer.
Under an agreement reached in November with six major powers, Iranian authorities will receive limited sanctions relief in exchange for steps to curb the country’s nuclear program.
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The interim agreement gives Iran access to $4.2 billion of its oil revenues frozen abroad if it carries out its part of the deal, while parties continue negotiations for a final agreement within a year. The next round of talks is set to begin on 18 February.
Last month, Iran and Russia launched talks about a potential $1.5 billion oil-for-goods swap that could boost Iranian oil exports.
OPEC said in its monthly market report the Iranian economy is already showing signs of a rebound. Unemployment fell modestly and trade in non-oil goods between Iran and more than 150 other countries accounted for $62.5 billion in the nine months from 21 March 2013, when the Iranian fiscal year began. During that same period, exports in petrochemical products accounted for more than $8.1 billion.
By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com