SEOUL, Feb. 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korean exports of petroleum products to Japan surged to a record high in 2011 mainly due to high crude prices and the massive earthquake that crippled refineries on the island nation, data showed Thursday.
Shipments of oil products to the neighboring country topped US$7.39 billion last year, up 72.5 percent from the previous high of $4.08 billion tallied in 2006, according to the data by the state-run Korea National Oil Corp.
This made Japan the second-largest market for locally refined petroleum products after China. South Korea exported oil products to 48 countries last year.
Total exports, as measured in volume, reached 64.90 million barrels, which is the 10th largest reported so far and about the same as the amount sent to the country in 2005.
"The biggest reason for the increase comes from soaring international crude prices that spiked up production costs of such products as gasoline and diesel," an industry source said.
The average import price for a barrel of crude oil imported by domestic refineries reached $106.3 last year, a sharp rise from $78.7 tallied in 2010.
In addition to high crude prices, the March 11 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that hit the northeastern part of Honshu caused a spike in demand as Japanese refineries were shut down.
In March and April, exports surged 1-3 million barrels more than the other months of the year as Japan scrambled to buy products from abroad to meet local demand.
Local sources predicted that Japan is likely to remain an important market for refined petroleum products in the future.
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