Japan is talking to U.S. to keep its Iranian oil supply steady: minister

April 21, 2019

TEHRAN - Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry said his country is trying to convince U.S. to keep buying Iranian oil in order to maintain its energy supplies.

Hiroshige Seko said Japan is reliant on crude imports from Iran and the U.S. sanctions would heavily impact the country’s economy and industry.

“Japan’s relationship with Iran, as one of the world’s leading oil producing countries, is important as the country (Japan) relies on almost all of its petroleum [needs] on imports,” S&P Global Platts quoted the official as saying in press conference in Tokyo on Friday.

Seko further noted that his country will take all necessary measures to avoid the negative impacts of U.S. actions on their energy supplies.

“We intend to have close discussions with the U.S. side in order to avoid having a harmful effect from the U.S. measures on Japan’s stable energy supply and its corporate activity,” he said.

Japan is among the eight countries with the U.S.’s 180-day waivers allowing them to keep importing Iranian oil through May 4. Confusion surrounding shipping, insurance and banking rules under the U.S. sanctions kept some of the countries from resuming imports for months after the U.S. granted waivers on November 5.

In February, Platts reported that Japan's largest refiner JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy was set to resume loading of Iranian crude oil as early as Monday (February 4), almost three months after the U.S. sanctions waiver was granted.

The U.S. reimposed sanctions on Iran in November after withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear accord between the Islamic Republic and six world powers.

The sanctions targeted Iran's oil sector, financial transactions and banks, as well as shipping and ship-building industries in order to cut off the country’s revenue sources.

The waivers are due to expire on May 2, and while Washington had previously said it would not extend the waivers to the eight countries again, it has recently adopted a more ambiguous tone about the matter. A separate waiver for Iraq, which imports both gas and oil from Iran, has been extended by America at least three times.

Iran exported 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil in March, the highest since October last year, when shipments had fallen to 1.08 million bpd, data from shipping sources compiled by S&P Global Platts showed.

EF/MA

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