Monday December 16, 2019
Home Lead Story Japanese Refi...

Japanese Refineries Put Halt on Imports of Iranian Oil as Waiver Nears End

Japan has increased imports from the Middle East, Russia and the Americas as its Iranian imports fell, according to government data

0
//
japanese, iranian
FILE - JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp's refinery is pictured in Yokohama, Japan, Feb. 7, 2017. VOA

Japanese refineries have put a halt on imports of Iranian oil after buying 15.3 million barrels between January and March ahead of the end of a temporary waiver on U.S. sanctions, according to industry sources and data on Refinitiv Eikon.

The waiver, which allowed Japan to buy some Iranian oil for another 180 days, expires in early May. However, Japanese refiners want to ensure enough time for all cargoes already loaded to arrive in Japan and for payments to be completed.

“We think it would be difficult to keep on lifting Iranian oil after March,” a Fuji Oil spokesman said, noting that banks and insurance companies want to make sure all the transactions and deliveries are done well before the waivers expire.

Last oil arrives early in April

The last Iranian oil cargo on supertanker Kisogawa is expected to arrive at Chiba, Japan, April 9, the data showed. The United States last year demanded that nations cut all Iranian oil imports when it reimposed sanctions on the country’s petroleum sector Nov. 4 over Tehran’s nuclear program. However, Washington granted temporary exemptions to Iran’s biggest oil clients: Japan, China, India, South Korea, Taiwan, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

iranian, japanese
FILE – An Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboat passes near an oil tanker, July 2, 2012. VOA

Refiners in Japan, the world’s fourth-biggest oil consumer, had stopped loading Iranian oil by mid-September, and only resumed loading in late January after banks received government assurances about processing payments to Iran.

Japan has loaded 15.3 million barrels of Iranian crude in the first three months of this year, which is equivalent to 86,430 barrels per day (bpd) during the six-month waiver period, according to Refinitiv data and Reuters calculations.

This represents a 33 percent drop from an average of 129,300 bpd that Japanese companies lifted between January and September last year before the sanctions kicked in, Refinitiv data showed.

The drop was more than the 20 percent reduction in supplies that Washington was said to have sought from each country over the six-month waiver period.

More oil from US, Russia Mideast

Japan has increased imports from the Middle East, Russia and the Americas as its Iranian imports fell, according to government data.

iranina, japanese
Japan has increased imports from the Middle East, Russia and the Americas as its Iranian imports fell, according to government data. Pixabay

Japanese refiners have been pushing the government to seek an extension of the U.S. sanctions waivers after the initial exemption period expires.

Japanese officials and their U.S. counterparts met earlier this month in Washington to discuss the U.S. sanctions.

ALSO READ: Border with Mexico Could be Closed Within Days, Says Trump

“I think the waiver could be extended, but maybe for a smaller volume and for a smaller number of countries,” said Takayuki Nogami, chief economist at Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp.

“If the U.S. government does not extend the waiver, it could push crude oil prices up significantly as the gasoline season approaches and it could hurt Trump’s reputation,” he said. On Wednesday, Japan extended state-backed insurance to cover imports of oil from Iran for another year. (VOA)

Next Story

India Ends all Imports of Iranian Oil, Says Washington Ambassador

Trump last year pulled out of a multinational pact under which Iran drastically scaled back its nuclear work in return for promises of sanctions relief

0
india, iranian oil
FILE - A worker walks atop a tanker wagon to check the freight level at an oil terminal on the outskirts of Kolkata, India. VOA

India has ended all imports of oil from Iran, its ambassador in Washington says, becoming the latest country to grudgingly comply with threatened U.S. sanctions.

India had already sharply decreased its imports from Iran and bought one million tonnes of crude in April, the last month before Washington stepped up its pressure campaign against Tehran and ended all exemptions to sanctions, Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla said. “That’s it. After that, we haven’t imported any,” Shringla told reporters Thursday during a briefing on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election victory.

No Venezuela oil, either

Shringla said that energy-hungry India has also ended all imports from Venezuela because it considered itself a partner of the United States. But he said the shift had caused pain at home, with Iran formerly supplying 10 percent of India’s oil needs.

Calling Iran “an extended neighbor” of India with long-standing cultural links, Shringla declined to say whether New Delhi shared President Donald Trump’s concerns about Tehran. “This is an issue that has to be dealt with, really, between the United States and Iran. We are only, in many senses, looking at it as a third party,” Shringla said.

But he added: “We would not like to see a move towards any escalation in any way in that area, for the simple reason that we depend very heavily on stability in that part of the world.”

iranian oil, india
FILE – U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after signing a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington, May 8, 2018. VOA

Trump last year pulled out of a multinational pact under which Iran drastically scaled back its nuclear work in return for promises of sanctions relief.

The Trump administration has instead ramped up economic pressure on Iran and recently deployed military assets, including an aircraft carrier strike group, to the area.
The United States as of May 2 ended exemptions it had given to eight governments from its unilateral order to stop buying Iranian oil.

Turkey stops imports

Turkey, which enjoyed a waiver and vocally disagreed with the U.S. policy, has also stopped importing oil from Iran, a Turkish official said this week. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus welcomed the news from Turkey.

ALSO READ: India, China, Turkey Silently Purchasing Iran’s Crude Oil as US Ban Begins

“We want the whole world to comply with these sanctions, and we’re grateful for our partners and allies that are respecting them,” she told reporters. The Indian ambassador, however, voiced confidence that U.S. sanctions would not affect its partnership in developing Iran’s Chabahar port.

India wants to use the port to ship supplies into Afghanistan in a detour from its archrival Pakistan, which historically backed the Taliban. “I think it is in the interest of both our countries and all others concerned to ensure that that lifeline continues for the people of Afghanistan,” Shringla said. (VOA)