South Korea is preparing to resume imports of Iranian oil in September as its refiners discuss terms with Iranian companies over shipping insurance, according to several reports.

The Asian oil importer halted shipments from Iran before the EU introduced an embargo on insurance for oil tankers carrying Iranian crude on 1 July.

SK Energy, South Korea’s largest refiner, is in talks with the Tehran government and Iranian firms over restarting shipments, the US-based Associated Press reported.

South Korea received about 9 per cent of Iran’s oil exports in 2010, making it the Islamic Republic’s fifth largest customer before the tightening of US-backed sanctions.

The US has provided 20 countries, including South Korea, with six-month waivers on financial dealings with Iran in return for agreeing to reduce crude imports.

Washington is using sanctions target Iran’s oil sector and financial institutions to pressure Iran to give up its controversial nuclear programme.