JAPAN NEED HELP
PLATTS - Japan continued to press for relief from US sanctions against Iran's oil customers during a meeting in Washington this week and urged US counterparts to consider the impact on the Japanese economy.
The meeting is the fourth of its kind and comes about a month before US sanctions on Iran snap back on November 5. Tokyo has been seeking a US exemption for its Iranian oil imports that it considers critical for its energy security and businesses.
During the latest meeting, "both sides actively discussed the US' reimposition of sanctions against Iran," while Tokyo reiterated its basic principle that Japanese corporate activity should not be impacted by the US sanctions, Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Tuesday, without elaborating.
The US State Department said Tuesday that its position has not changed.
"We continue to discuss our Iran policy with our counterparts around the world," a spokeswoman said. "Our goal remains to get to zero oil imports from Iran as quickly as possible, ideally by November 4. We are prepared to work with countries that are reducing their imports on a case-by-case basis."
The meeting spearheaded by Hiroshi Oka, MOFA's director-general for the Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau, and Sandra Oudkirk, deputy assistant secretary for State's Bureau of Energy Resources, was attended by Japanese officials including from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and US officials including from the Treasury and Department of Energy.
INCREASED IMPORTS AHEAD OF US SANCTIONS
Japan's crude oil imports from Iran jumped 65% year on year in August, marking the fourth consecutive month of increase, according to the latest METI data. This signals domestic refiners' efforts to take as many cargoes as possible before US sanctions against Iran come into effect in November.
The 65% rise lifted Japan's imports of Iranian crude oil to 177,475 b/d in August, contributing to the 5.9% year-on-year rise in overall crude imports to 3.39 million b/d in the month.
Imports of Iranian crude in August edged down 3.3% from July, but the Persian Gulf producer was the fifth-largest supplier to Japan in the month, accounting for 5.2% of the total volume, according to METI data.
Japanese refiners have now temporarily suspended Iranian oil loadings ahead of US sanctions, while they are also closely monitoring government talks with Washington on securing a waiver to continue their imports, Petroleum Association of Japan President Takashi Tsukioka said on September 20.
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