Japan JX cuts 2013 Iran crude imports 'slightly' under renewed contract
Tokyo (Platts)--7Jan2013/651 am EST/1151 GMT
Japan's largest refiner JX Nippon Oil & Energy has cut "slightly" its
crude imports from Iran under a renewed annual contract beyond January 2013,
company chairman Yasushi Kimura told Platts Monday.
Speaking on the sidelines of a New Year reception hosted by the
Petroleum Association of Japan in Tokyo, Kimura said the company has renewed
its annual Iranian crude import contract at a "slightly" reduced level,
declining to elaborate on the volume.
Kimura said the slight reduction was in response to both international
sanctions against Iran and diminishing domestic oil demand.
Until December 2012, JX Nippon Oil & Energy had an annual contract to
import 80,000 b/d of Iranian crude. A second contract for 10,000 b/d expired
at the end of March 2012.
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JX has declined to comment on the fate of the 10,000 b/d import contract
since saying the National Iranian Oil Company had allowed it to keep the
contract pending for renewal.
JX is the first Japanese refiner to have renewed its annual Iranian
crude import contract in 2013, as all other Japanese refiners' import
contracts are due to expire at the end of March.
Kimura, who is also president of the PAJ, said Japanese refiners are
considering trimming their Iranian crude imports in 2013 in response to
international sanctions and flagging domestic demand.
IMPORTS OF IRANIAN CRUDE RISE IN DECEMBER
Japan's imports of Iranian crude in December amounted to 6 million
barrels, up 10% from 5.46 million barrels in November, according to a Platts
estimate Friday based on tanker tracking data and industry information.
Based on the data, Japanese imports of crude from Iran in December are
expected to have averaged around 194,000 b/d, against imports of 182,000 b/d
The December imports represent the largest monthly import volume since
international sanctions against Iran took effect at the end of June.
Over January-November 2012, Japan's Iranian crude imports averaged
188,000 b/d, down 40% from a year earlier, according to data compiled by the
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
Japan's imports of crude from Iran have stabilized since July when it
did not import any Iranian crude for the first time since February 1981.
Barrels loaded in late July did not show up in Japan's import statistics for
the month as the Iran-Japan voyage takes around 19 days.
Japanese companies were unable to load crude from Iran from mid-June to
mid-July, when it was unclear whether protection and indemnity cover for
tankers carrying Iranian oil would be available after the start of EU
shipping insurance sanctions on July 1. Imports from Iran were only made
possible by the introduction at the end of June of a new supplementary
insurance framework set up by the Japanese.
Japan's imports of crude from Iran have been falling in recent years and
are set to fall further in line with an 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.
The US on September 14 renewed 180-day waivers for 10 European countries
and Japan from sanctions aimed at curtailing Iran's petroleum sales.
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--Edited by Wendy Wells, email@example.com