Japan ready to resume oil imports from Iran if sanctions lifted

May 29, 2021 - 13:9

TEHRAN – President of Petroleum Association of Japan has said his country’s refiners could resume oil imports from Iran as early as three months after the U.S. sanctions on Iran are lifted, Platts reported.

In the event of confirmation of the lifting of sanctions, "we start our consideration and [the resumption of Iranian oil imports] could come as early as in three months," Tsutomu Sugimori told an online press conference Thursday.

Sugimori's comments came as negotiations between Iran and world powers on the 2015 nuclear deal are underway in Vienna and the two sides signal that an agreement is within reach.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on May 20 a "main agreement" has been made to reinstate a nuclear deal as the U.S. has broadly committed to lifting its sanctions targeting Iran's oil, petrochemical and shipping sectors.

Japan's top three refiners ENEOS, Idemitsu Kosan, and Cosmo Oil said on May 21 that they would consider the potential resumption of Iranian oil imports once there was confirmation of sanctions being lifted.

"Although it depends on the formal decision of lifting the U.S. sanctions as well as the details, we will closely coordinate with the Japanese government, financial institutions, and shipping companies," an Idemitsu Kosan official said.

Japan suspended its Iranian oil imports in May 2019 after briefly resuming imports in February for the first time in four months, as the U.S. did not extend its 180-day sanctions waiver to eight countries, including Japan, beyond early May.

Japan's 2019 Iranian oil imports totaled 17.10 million barrels, down 63.2 percent from 46.51 million barrels in 2018, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry data.

The return of Iranian condensate, as well as many other crude grades, to the market, will likely set the stage for new competition for the Asian demand pie, prompting major producers to make competitive offers, which would significantly enhance Asian refiners' feedstock economics and overall product margins, according to refinery officials and trading sources in China, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and India.

EF/MA

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