UPDATE 1-Iran becomes No.2 oil supplier to S.Korea in first quarter

Tue Apr 25, 2017 5:32am GMT

* S.Korea doubles March, 1st-quarter crude imports from Iran

* March, 1st-quarter imports from Iran both at records

* Ramp-up in Iran shipments follows exemption from OPEC cuts

* Iran moves into 2nd place on supplier list from 5th a year ago (Reworks headline, adds bullets, analyst quote)

By Jane Chung

SEOUL, April 25 (Reuters) - Iran ranked as South Korea's second-biggest oil exporter over the first three months of 2017 as it ramped up output to regain market share after sanctions were lifted last year, the first time ever it has claimed the No.2 spot on a quarterly basis.

South Korea's March imports from Iran more than doubled from a year ago to a record 18.54 million barrels, or 597,935 barrels per day (bpd), data from state-run Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC) showed on Monday.

For the January-March period of 2017, Iran seized the No.2 spot with shipments of 46.73 million barrels, also more than double from the same period last year and the highest on record for a quarter.

"South Korea couldn't bring crude from Iran for a while because of sanctions though it used a lot of Iranian crude in the past. But now as the sanctions are lifted ... crude from Iran will keep flowing," Kim Jae-kyung, research fellow at state-run Korea Energy Economics Institute, said on Tuesday.   Continued...

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