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South Korea’s Sep crude oil imports mark first fall in 11 months

South Korea’s crude oil imports fell 0.9% year on year in September, marking the first decline in almost a year. The country imported 76.1 million barrels of crude oil in September, down from 76.8 million barrels a year earlier, preliminary data from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy showed Thursday. It was the first year-on-year decline in South Korea’s monthly crude imports since October last year, when imports dipped 5.8% from a year earlier. The September volume was also down 14.2% from the 88.7 million barrels imported in August, and was the smallest monthly volume since 74.5 million barrels was imported in October last year. The cost of South Korea’s imports fell 50.8% year on year to $3.87 billion in September from $7.86 billion a year earlier, and was also down from $4.85 billion in August, according to the MOTIE data. The country paid an average $50.9/b in […]

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World’s Top 3 Shipbuilders Post Record Loss on Deep-Sea Failures

Construction work in the dry dock at the Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg The world’s three biggest shipbuilders posted a combined 4.8 trillion won ($4.1 billion) in operating losses in the second quarter, paying the price for a failed foray into deep-sea oil rigs. Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. and Samsung Heavy Industries Co. — South Korea’s Big Three shipbuilders — all reported losses Wednesday that were far worse than analysts had estimated. The root cause: a venture into offshore oil rigs starting around 2010 to avoid direct competition with Chinese shipbuilders, who had the advantage of cheap labor to make low-profit tankers. Mounting losses at vessel makers are the latest example of difficulties for the global shipbuilding industry after a glut of vessels and low freight rates spelled trouble for Chinese shipyards in recent years, prompting […]

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Deep-Sea Plan Fails, Leaving Korean Shipyards Struggling

Daewoo ship workers look at the Pazflor floating production, storage and offloading unit at a shipyard in Geoje, South Korea. Photographer: Jean Chung/Bloomberg The deep-ocean strategy is coming back to bite South Korean shipyards. Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. and Samsung Heavy Industries Co. — South Korea’s Big Three shipbuilders — ventured into offshore oil rigs starting around 2010. The goal was to avoid direct competition with China, where inexpensive labor could churn out low-profit tankers at cheaper rates. With oil prices climbing toward $100 a barrel, offshore rigs seemed like a savvy bet. Today the strategy seems to have backfired. Struggling with technology and a plunge in oil prices that has discouraged exploration, Korean vessel makers are racking up debt and could show billions of dollars in losses when they report earnings starting Monday. It’s the latest example of difficulties for the global […]

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South Korea’s June crude imports from Iran down 20 percent year-on-year

South Korea’s top refiner SK Energy’s main factory is seen in Ulsan, about 410 km (256 miles) southeast of Seoul, February 25, 2009. South Korea’s crude oil imports from Iran dropped 19.7 percent in June from a year earlier, and its shipments from the OPEC country in the first half of this year also declined 5.5 percent year-on-year, meeting international sanction requirements. Iran and six major world powers on Tuesday reached a nuclear deal under which the sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations are set to be lifted in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program. "More oil from Iran will help already oversupplied crude markets become more favorable to buyers … from a long-term perspective, it is likely to help improve refining margins," said a Seoul-based source at one of the two South Korean refiners that import Iranian crude. Of four refiners in […]

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Saudi Arabia goes on refinery hiring spree in South Korea

SEOUL/KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia’s state oil firm is on a hiring spree in South Korea, as the world’s top crude exporter seeks engineers to run plants in its soaring refining sector – setting it on course to compete with some Asian countries that are big oil buyers. Technicians from South Korea are an obvious target given parts of its refining sector are struggling and the two countries also have long-established business ties across a range of areas including refining. But Asia has established itself as the world’s biggest refining region and so Saudi moves to become a major refiner are set to increase competition with countries such as India that also refine Saudi crude to supply Europe. Having little prior experience in refining, state oil firm Saudi Aramco is trying to lure experienced engineers and technicians from South Korea with generous expatriate packages. "Working in Aramco has three […]

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Saudi Nuclear Deal Raises Stakes for Iran Talks

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman greeted South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Riyadh last week. ENLARGE Photo: Saudi Press Agency/Reuters WASHINGTON—As U.S. and Iranian diplomats inched toward progress on Tehran’s nuclear program last week, Saudi Arabia quietly signed its own nuclear-cooperation agreement with South Korea. That agreement, along with recent comments from Saudi officials and royals, is raising concerns on Capitol Hill and among U.S. allies that a deal with Iran, rather than stanching the spread of nuclear technologies, risks fueling it. Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal, a member of the royal family, has publicly warned in recent months that Riyadh will seek to match the nuclear capabilities Iran is allowed to maintain as part of any final agreement reached with world powers. This could include the ability to enrich uranium and to harvest the weapons-grade plutonium discharged in a nuclear reactor’s spent fuel. Several U.S. and […]

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