by Takeo Kumagai, Platts.com
May 29, 2013 (TSR) – Japanese refiners will closely monitor US sanctions against Tehran in relation to their crude imports from Iran, Petroleum Association of Japan President Yasushi Kimura said Wednesday.
“We will be monitoring international situations including the US sanctions,” Kimura told a press conference in Tokyo. “At this moment, we have not decided whether we will cut further or increase [Iranian crude imports] because we are monitoring the situation.”
Japan’s waiver from Washington’s financial sanctions targeting oil trade with Iran is due for renewal in September after the US in March extended a 180-day Iran sanctions waiver for Tokyo.
In March, Japan’s refiners had been waiting for the US to extend a waiver from Washington’s financial sanctions targeting oil trade with Iran before renewing their crude purchase contracts beyond April. Sources familiar with the matter said the renewal process had been delayed.
Four of Japan’s refiners — Showa Shell, JX Nippon Oil & Energy, Cosmo Oil and Idemitsu Kosan — have confirmed with Platts that they have renewed an annual crude import contract with Iran this year.
Japan’s imports of crude from Iran have been falling in recent years and are set to fall further, in line with the agreement with the US that will allow Japanese banks continued access to the US financial system in return for a pledge to reduce the country’s purchases of Iranian crude.