* Imports of Iranian oil in June rise 10.5 pct to 1.15 mln T y/y
* Crude imports from Iran at 9.27 mln T in H1, up 51.5 pct y/y
* Total June crude imports up 3.2 pct y/y at 11.16 mln T
* S.Korea imports 72.24 mln T crude oil in H1, up 1.8 pct on year (Adds details on oil imports)
By Jane Chung
SEOUL, July 15 (Reuters) - South Korea’s crude oil imports from Iran increased 10.5 percent in June from a year earlier as Tehran continued to ramp up output after sanctions over its nuclear programme were lifted.
Seoul imported 1.15 million tonnes of crude from Tehran in June, or 281,338 barrels per day (bpd), compared with 1.04 million tonnes a year ago, customs data showed on Saturday.
In the first half of the year, South Korea’s intake of Iranian oil jumped 51.5 percent to 9.27 million tonnes, or 375,597 bpd, over the same period a year ago.
South Korea is one of the main Asian customers for Iranian crude, including an ultra-light oil known as condensate.
Although Iran ranked as South Korea’s second-biggest crude oil supplier in the January-March period in 2017, the data showed it slid to No.3 spot behind Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in the first half of this year as Iran struggled to keep condensate shipment volumes after clearing stocks stored on tankers.
Iran, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is exempt from the oil producer club’s commitment to cut production to clear a global glut.
Iran has been pumping around 3.8 million bpd in recent months and expects its oil output to rise to about 4 million bpd by the end of the year, its deputy oil minister Hossein Zamaninia said.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s imports from Kuwait declined 13.2 percent in June from a year ago to 1.53 million tonnes, or 374,010 bpd, according to the data. But Kuwait regained No.2 position in the first six months of 2017 with almost 11 million tonnes of crude shipment in the Jan-June period of 2017, or 445,123 bpd, up 2.9 percent from the same time last year.
In June, oil supplies from Saudi Arabia rose 13.7 percent to 3.48 million tonnes, or 849,772 bpd, a year ago, the data noted. Korea’s oil imports from the world’s top exporter climbed 4.2 percent to 21.71 million tonnes in the first half of 2017.
Overall, the world’s fifth-biggest crude importer brought in 11.61 million tonnes of oil last month, or 2.84 million bpd, up 3.2 percent from 11.26 million tonnes a year ago.
In the first six months of 2017, South Korea imported 72.24 million tonnes of crude, or 2.93 million bpd, up 1.8 percent from nearly 71 million tonnes over the same period last year.
Final data for June crude oil imports by state-run Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC) is due later this month. (Reporting by Jane Chung; Editing by Andrew Hay)