Japan says wants US to ease Iran oil import curbs

Japan says it is trying to seek an exemption from the US to maintain its oil imports from Iran as the administration of US President Donald Trump is preparing to reinstate sanctions against the country.

Platts in a report quoted an official from Japan’s ministry of economy, trade and industry as saying that this would be part of the country’s efforts to avoid any sudden reduction in its oil imports from Iran.

Daisuke Hirota was reported to have told journalists on the sidelines of a conference in Azerbaijan that Japan would not expect its oil imports from Iran to be reduced.

Hirota said 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 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.

Platts further added that Japan had sought clarification from the US Treasury Department over the implication of sanctions on its economic ties with Iran.

It said this had been raised during a meeting in Tokyo between US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin with Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso.

Japan imported an average of 165,481 barrels per day of Iranian oil in fiscal 2017-18 (April-March), down 28% from the previous fiscal year, and Iranian imports accounted for 5.2% of Japan’s total crude imports of 3.19 million barrels per day in the fiscal year ended on March 31, Platts added further in its report.

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