Higher crude prices jack up South Koreas oil import bill

Higher crude prices jack up South Koreas oil import bill

Despite a drop in the volume of oil imports, South Korea’s import bill rose sharply this month from a year earlier as international crude prices shot up, government data showed Sunday.

The country imported US$6.3 billion worth of crude in the first 27 days of March, with the amount likely to hover above $7.1 billion for the full month, according to the data by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

South Korea’s oil imports amounted to $4.74 billion during the same month a year earlier. The value of oil imports came to $6.22 billion in February this year and $7.25 billion in January.

The ministry expects the volume of customs-cleared oil imports to reach 75 million barrels in March, down 7 percent from the same month last year.

The sharp increase in South Korea’s oil import bill for this month was attributed to high-flying international oil prices. The import price of crude spiked to $94.7 per barrel this month from $58.7 per barrel a year earlier, according to the ministry.

Given high-flying oil prices, South Korea’s trade balance is expected to remain in the red for March, the ministry said. The country posted a trade deficit of $1.25 billion in February.

“Despite brisk exports, the country is unlikely to see an improvement in its trade balance due to rising international oil prices,” a ministry official said.

South Korea, the world’s fourth-largest crude buyer, depends entirely on imports for its oil needs.


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