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S. Korea's energy imports sharply down in April amid pandemic


South Korea's imports of energy products nearly halved in April due mainly to the falling global price of crude oil amid the new coronavirus pandemic, which has suspended business activities around the globe, data showed Thursday.

The country's imports of energy reached $6.47 billion last month, down 41.6 percent from a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Korea Energy Economics Institute.

Due to the sharp decrease in demand, energy-related products accounted for only 17.1 percent of South Korea's overall imports in the month. It marked the lowest rate since the 16.1 percent posted in May 1999.

Energy resources, including crude, took up a quarter of South Korea's combined imports in 2019. The figure reached as high as 29 percent in February 2020 but soon tumbled in the face of the global virus pandemic.

The decrease came as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused economic jitters across the globe, leading to shutdowns of production lines and weaker consumer sentiment.

South Korea's total energy imports in terms of volume reached 27.9 million tons of oil equivalent (TOE) in April, down 6.9 percent on-year.

South Korea's imports of crude reached $3 billion in April, falling sharply from the $6.6 billion posted a year earlier. Over the cited period, the global price of crude per barrel also halved to $34.1, according to the institute.

Imports of petroleum products also dipped 42.1 percent over the period, while those of liquefied natural gas surrendered 8.1 percent.

Asia's No. 4 economy, meanwhile, depended on imported sources for 91.9 percent of its energy demand, marking the lowest monthly figure since South Korea started to keep track of the number in 1997. (Yonhap)