South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik has arrived in Oman to ‘discuss energy issues,’ as the country seeks to lower its dependence on Iranian oil in the face of tightening US sanctions.

Kim arrived in the sultanate on Friday as part of a three-day visit to the country and a subsequent four-day visit to the UAE, with news reports stating the Korean premier will be seeking to discuss oil supplies at it looks at reducing its oil imports from Tehran – which currently total ten per cent of its imports.

The Korean Yonhap agency is quoted as saying that Kim is in the region ‘to discuss energy issues and ways to strengthen economic co-operation with the Middle Eastern nations.

‘Kim will arrive in Oman on Friday for a three-day trip to meet His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said to promote bilateral, economic and political ties.’

The visit comes as Iran threatens to blockade the Straits of Hormuz, through which approximately one-third of the world’s oil passes, in the wake of US sanctions imposed over ongoing concern with Iran’s nuclear programme.

South Korea was Oman’s third-highest oil importer in December 2011, importing 9.23 per cent of Oman’s total oil exports for the year, according to data released by the website of the erstwhile Ministry of National Economy.

The data also shows that China was the biggest importer of Omani crude, importing 49.94 per cent of the sultanate’s 23.67mn barrel export total for December 2011.

Japan was the second highest, importing 10.86 per cent of the sultanate’s exports.

Source: Zawya & Muscat Daily