Japan to consult US, seek easing of Iran oil import curbs: official
Japan will try to avoid any sudden reduction in its Iranian crude oil imports and may seek some form of exemption from the renewed US sanctions regime, an official at the country’s ministry of economy, trade and industry, Daisuke Hirota, said Wednesday.
On the sidelines of a conference in Azerbaijan, Hirota, who is principal deputy director at METI’s oil and gas division, played down the prospect for Japan to reduce its imports of Iranian crude, something the Petroleum Association of Japan has said could happen from October.
He noted Japan had an exemption from the US and EU-led sanctions regime earlier in the decade.
“We continued to import about 170,000 b/d from Iran and now we continue to import from Iran at this level,” he told S&P Global Platts. “We think to continue to get the exemption from the US to keep this amount of imports from Iran.”
“Japanese companies don’t want to stop imports suddenly,” he said, adding the US position needed clarifying.
“The situation in the US government is drastically changing every day,” he said.
“Now we are collecting information and keep in touch with the US government.”
“We need to continue to keep imports, and to keep imports from Iran we need to get information and communication with the US government,” he said.
Iran’s relatively low-cost crude accounts for around 5% of Japan’s crude oil imports, and is valued by Japanese refiners partly because of its heavier quality, Hirota noted.