According to the Korea Petroleum Association, crude oil exported by the 12 OPEC member countries accounted for 86.76 percent of the crude oil Korea imported in the first quarter of this year.
The percentage exceeded 80 percent in the mid-2000s, dipped below 80 percent in 2010, and remained below 83 percent on an annual basis for years. It had been 79.36 percent and 80.51 percent in the first quarters of 2014 and 2013, respectively.
Among the OPEC member countries, Saudi Arabia took up 31.64 percent, followed by Kuwait (14.67 percent), Iraq (12.90 percent), the U.A.E. (10.95 percent), Qatar (11.58 percent), and Iran (4.15 percent). The imports from Iraq and Qatar showed a significant increase. Specifically, the ratio of the imports from Iraq rose by approximately five percentage points, while shipments from European countries such as Britain and Norway declined.
The Korean government is encouraging the import of crude oil from regions other than the Middle East. However, domestic petroleum companies are preferring crude oil from the Middle East in view of costs and equipment compatibility. Still, it is pointed out that the lopsidedness is far from desirable, because it could result in problems if political situations became unstable in the Middle East. Last year, China procured 20 percent of the crude oil it consumed from Africa, 13 percent from Russia, 10 percent from Latin America, and 52 percent from the Middle East.