As exports of petroleum products to emerging markets soared, petroleum product exports and consumption volume all reached record levels in the first half of the year. Korea’s imports of US crude oil also more than quadrupled in the first half of the year.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on August 27 that Korea's oil imports as well as the import, production,consumption and export of petroleum products continued their booming performances in the first half of the year.
The export volume of petroleum products increased 4.2 percent year on year in the first half to reach 260 million barrels, a new record high. The value of exports also increased 34.3 percent to total US$22 billion thanks to export price hikes sparked off by rising oil prices.
Bunker C oil exports increased 300 percent to 14.8 million barrels. Exports to China and Malaysia ballooned as some of bunker C oil used as a raw material in advanced facilities to produce gasoline and diesel oil was exported. Gasoline and diesel exports also grew 0.5 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively. Thanks to the Korea-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (FTA), diesel exports to Vietnam surged to 5.38 million barrels, and exports to Africa including Egypt and Angola climbed.
A sharp rise in US crude oil imports also boosted Korea’s total crude oil imports to reach a new record high in the first half of the year. During the same span, crude oil imports rose 2.7 percent year on year to 560 million barrels. In particular, the volume of US crude oil imports surged 358 percent from 3,078,000 barrels in the same period of last year to 14.1 million barrels. This figure eclipses the annual import volume of 13.43 million barrels last year. However, US crude oil imports account for only 2.5 percent of Korea's total crude oil imports. Compared to this, crude oil imports from the Middle East (76.6 percent of Korea’s total crude oil imports) shrank 7.3 percent from the previous year.
"An increase in US shale oil production and a cut in the OPEC’s output kept the West Texas intermediate (WTI) price lower than that of Dubai crude oil. This drove up Korea’s US crude oil imports 358 percent, triggering an increase in Korea’s US crude oil imports," said an official of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
The consumption of petroleum products also reached record highs in the first half of the year due to rising demand for naphtha for petrochemical raw materials, LPG and aviation oil. Petroleum product consumption rose 1.8 percent to 470 million barrels. Gasoline and diesel consumption, however, edged up only 1.4 percent and 0.05 percent respectively due to a spike in oil prices, despite an increase in the number of registered vehicles. Diesel consumption remained at the same level as last year, as consumption in the transport sector which accounts for about 80 percent of total consumption declined due to a slowdown in the growth of registered cars and anti-fine dust measures.