South Korea’s volume of base oil exports for September were barely higher than the same month of 2019 and slightly less than in August of this year, according to Korea Customs Service data. The value was down significantly year to year, as it has been throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
South Korea exported 387,852 metric tons of base oil in September, up 1% from 382,973 tons in the same month in 2019 but a bit below the 389,950 tons exported in August. The latter number was 5% higher than in August of 2019.
This September’s exports were valued at U.S. $210.3 million, down 23% from $274 million a year earlier.
South Korea is one of the world’s largest base oil exporters, sending most of the volume that it produces to markets around the world to generate healthy profits for the nations’ refiners. The volume of that business has swung wildly during the pandemic – from 247,102 tons in May, which was down 39% year to year, to 397,573 in June, which was 15% higher than the same month of 2019.
Revenues have been steadily lower, though, because base oil prices are down this year due to drops in crude oil prices.
For the first nine months of 2020, the country exported 3.2 million tons of base oil, down 9% from 3.5 million in the year-earlier period. That year-to-date volume was valued at $1.8 billion, down 28% from $2.5 billion.
The county imported 35,545 tons of base oil in September, up 97 percent from 18,035 tons of base oil in the same month last year.
Year-to-date through September, the country imported 315,210 tons of base oil, up 7% from 295,710 tons.