S.Korea Jan crude oil imports from Iran down 25 pct y/y

Crude imports by South Korea, the world's fifth-largest crude buyer, fell 4.9 percent in January from a year earlier to 80.15 million barrels, state-run Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC) said on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Crude imports from Iran stood at 7.03 million barrels last month, down 24.8 percent from a year earlier, the KNOC data showed.

South Korea's crude oil imports in January fell 5.2 percent from a year earlier, preliminary customs figures released by the economy ministry showed earlier this month.

Oil prices rose to a nine-month high on Tuesday following a Greek bailout and as top Asian buyers moved to reduce crude imports from Iran, following Western sanctions aimed at halting Tehran's nuclear program.

The European Union has imposed its own embargo on oil imports from Iran, to start from July 1. In response, Iran ordered a halt of oil sales to Britain and France Sunday in a move symbolic of Tehran's anger with the West.

Iran, the biggest producer in OPEC after Saudi Arabia, denies Western suspicions that its nuclear program has military goals, saying it is for purely peaceful purposes.