Korean oil refiners' petroleum product exports have been on the rise since the beginning of the year, turning on a green light in reaching the highest-ever export volume again.
According to Petronet of Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC), in January, Korea’s petroleum product exports ran to 45,136,000 barrels, while the export amount hit US$3.458 billion, up from the previous year's volume of 41,968,000 barrels and amount of US$2.652 billion. The volume and amount grew 7.55 percent and 30.4 percent, respectively.
Expectations for setting a new record are growing as exports have increased since the beginning of this year, continuing from last year when exports reached a record high. In particular, the amount of exports has swelled more than 30 percent this year due to the impact of oil price hikes. Exports have been steadily leaping up since 2013 and a recent global economic upturn gave rise to a spike in demand, fueling the export growth.
By country, exports to China and Japan shot up 32.17 percent and 40.08 percent, respectively, compared with the previous year. Export amounts gained 65.06 percent and 74.25 percent, respectively. It is analyzed that in China, demand for petroleum products is on a steady rise and Japan produces petroleum products as much as domestic demand so if demand goes up, Japan ramps up petroleum product imports.
Exports have declined to the United States and Australia where diesel exports account for large proportions but exports are expected to climb shortly before the spring and summer driving seasons. In fact, Australia became Korea’s second largest petroleum product export market with an increase in imports due to a supply shortage triggered by the closure of old refineries last year. The industry expects exports to Australia to expand this year.
Sales of gasoline and diesel edged down, but recorded double-digit growth. In the case of kerosene, which is mainly used as a heating fuel, kerosene exports surged due to severe cold waves in the northern hemisphere last winter. Volume and amount soared 47.58 percent and 82.11 percent, respectively. The volume of jet aircraft oil and lubricant exports also inflated seven percent to 16 percent and their amounts 34 to 44 percent over the same period last year. This was attributable to a spike in air travel and an increase in Korean lubricants' competitiveness.
Many experts in the oil refinery industry predict that exports will continue to grow this year, continuing from last year. This is because there is a dominant analysis that international oil prices will maintain a certain level higher than last year along with rises in demand for petroleum products in China, Australia, and Vietnam among others.