South Korea is pushing to more than double its imports of crude and condensates from Iran as part of efforts to boost its oil trade with the Middle Eastern country, industry sources said Tuesday, according to Yonhap News.
Seoul and Tehran will likely sign a series of deals on the promotion of the oil trade early next month, when President Park Geun-hye is to make a trip to Iran to promote business ties between the nations, leading a delegation of some 200 business people.
Her visit, the first of its kind by a South Korean president since the two sides established diplomatic ties in 1962, comes as Iran has emerged as a high-potential market after years of international sanctions were lifted in January.
"South Korea and Iran are expected to sign several memorandums of understanding as South Korea is seeking to find a stable source of crude, while Iran wants to have a base for tapping into the Northeast Asian market," an industry source said.
With the signing of the deals, Seoul is moving to increase its daily crude imports from Iran to around 280,000 barrels this year from 115,000 barrels last year, he said.
Iran had been a major exporter of crude to South Korea, but international sanctions on Tehran for its nuclear program had sharply reduced bilateral trade.
Last year, South Korea imported US$2.20 billion worth of crude oil from Iran, down 51 percent from the previous year and far lower than $9.36 billion in 2011.