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Japan Negotiating with U.S. For Iranian Oil Import Exemption

Japan will continue to negotiate with the United States to seek exemption from the U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil, as Tokyo wants to avoid negative impacts on its energy supply and business activity, Japan’s public broadcaster HNK quoted Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko as saying on Tuesday.  

Japan and the United States held talks earlier this month on Iran’s sanctions, Seko told reporters today, adding that he conveyed Japan’s position that the sanctions shouldn’t disrupt the Japanese corporate activity.

“The Japanese side insisted on the basic principle that [the US sanctions] should not affect energy supply or have a negative impact on Japanese corporate activities,” Platts quoted Seko as saying at a news conference.

According to data by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Japan’s oil imports from Iran stood at 162,222 bpd on average between January and June 2018, down by 2.7 percent year on year. The imports from Iran accounted for 5.3 percent of Japan’s total crude oil imports in the first half this year.  

As early as in May, when U.S. President Donald Trump announced that sanctions on Iran would return, Japan signaled that it would seek some kind of exemption from Iran’s oil sanctions. Talks have been held throughout the summer, and reports have had it that the U.S. had asked Japan to completely stop importing Iranian crude oil.

In the middle of July, the head of the Japanese oil refiners’ association said that Japan was likely to stop purchasing Iranian crude oil, with last loadings expected by the middle of September and arriving in Japan by mid-October.

On Monday, when asked about the talks with Japan over a U.S. waiver, a senior U.S. Administration official told reporters via teleconference that “We don’t disclose private deliberations with other governments over these things. As we’ve said, we – our goal is to get the import of Iranian oil to zero. We are not looking to grant exemptions or waivers, but we do and are glad to discuss requests and look at requests on a case-by-case basis. But beyond that, we don’t comment on it.”

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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