Japan talking ‘tenaciously’ to US on Iran oil imports
Japan says it is pressing the US for exemptions from new sanctions to continue oil imports from Iran.
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"In any case, the government intends to have talks with the US tenaciously in order to continue Iranian crude oil imports," Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) Hiroshige Seko said.
Japanese officials have said they need Iranian oil and have cited exemption from US sanctions as among their highest priorities for the country’s energy industry.
Refiners have rushed to take cargoes before US sanctions come into effect in November. In July, Japan lifted more than 183,000 barrels per day of Iranian oil, raising imports for the third consecutive month year on year.
According to METI data released Friday, Iran was Japan’s fifth largest crude supplier in July, accounting for 6.3% of imports.
Japanese refiners, however, are worried about punitive US measures if they maintain their Iranian oil imports and expecting guidance from the government.
Seko, however, said the country’s refiners need to make their own decisions as to whether import oil from Iran.
Platts quoted an Idemitsu Kosan spokesman as saying that the refiner has yet to decide on its Iranian oil policy. The company, he said, is still carefully monitoring the progress of the bilateral talks between Japan and the US.
Cosmo Oil also said it has yet to make a final decision on its Iranian crude oil policy but it does not plan to load any crude oil from Iran in October.
The sanctions specifically targeting Iran's oil industry take effect Nov. 4. President Donald Trump has said the US wanted to bring Iran’s oil exports down to zero.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned that no oil would pass through the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf if Iranian exports were blocked.
Washington is trying to stop Iran’s petrochemical, steel and copper exports, and to disrupt its ports and shipping services.