South Korea will stop importing oil from Iran from 1st July 2012. This makes South Korea, the first Asian country to halt all imports from Iran as per the EU sanctions.
South Korea has already started tapping Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq and UAE to complete the shortfall of oil by spot purchases. It has not yet been able to replace all of its oil requirements though.
South Korea is the fourth largest Asian buyer of Iranian oil along with India, China and Japan. 87 million barrels of oil were imported from Iran by South Korea in 2011.
Japan’s oil carrying tankers have state guarantees to continue importing oil from Iran. South Korean tankers have no such insurance. South Korean tankers carrying Iranian oil are insured by firms in EU. South Korea was recently in talks with the EU to continue this insurance. However, EU firms are banned to insure Iranian oil importing ships from 1st July. As a result, South Korea will put an end to all its Iranian oil imports from 1st July 2012.