October 15, 2015 / 12:45 AM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-South Korea's Sept oil imports from Iran up 43 pct, but 9-month purchases dip

* Sept Iran crude imports at 800,111 T vs 558,357 T yr ago

* Jan-Sept crude imports from Iran down 4.5 pct y/y

* Total Sept crude imports at 10.43 mln T, down 1 pct y/y

By Meeyoung Cho

SEOUL, Oct 15 (Reuters) - South Korea’s crude oil imports from Iran jumped 43 percent in September from a year ago, though shipments in the first nine months of 2015 fell 4.5 percent, reflecting sanctions restricting buying over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

The world’s fifth-largest crude importer brought 800,111 tonnes of Iranian crude in September, or 195,494 barrels per day (bpd), compared with 558,357 tonnes, a year ago, preliminary data from its customs office showed on Thursday.

After the July 14 deal with world powers to end years of sanctions over its nuclear programme, the OPEC producer is keen to claw back market share it lost as a result of Western sanctions.

Once the International Atomic Energy Agency is satisfied Iran has met its obligations, which Tehran hopes to achieve by early 2016 but could take longer, the United States, United Nations and European Union will rescind nuclear-related sanctions.

Seoul bought 4.58 million tonnes, or 123,078 bpd, of crude from Tehran in January-September, versus 4.80 million tonnes in the same period in 2014, the data showed.

Out of four South Korean refiners, SK Energy Co Ltd and Hyundai Oilbank Co Ltd import oil from Iran. Their imports typically swing from month to month but imports should be no higher than last year’s levels under the sanctions.

South Korea’s crude imports from Iran in 2014 were 6.2 million tonnes, or 124,497 bpd, down 7.1 percent from the 2013 average of 134,000 bpd.

Overall, Seoul imported 10.43 million tonnes of crude last month, or 2.55 million bpd, down 1 percent from 10.53 million tonnes a year ago.

Final data for September imports with more detail will be available from state-run Korea National Oil Corp later this month. (Reporting by Meeyoung Cho; Editing by Ed Davies)

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