Energy

The US Asks Japan to Fully Withdraw from Iran's Azadegan Oil Field

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tokyo -- The US government has asked Japan to completely withdraw from the Iranian Azadegan oil development field in the southwestern part of Iran, where Japan holds about 10% in stakes, the Yomiuri Shinbun reported this evening.

This request is part of the American measures of imposing sanctions against Iran because it suspects that its nuclear program is designed to produce nuclear weapons.

The Yomiuri quoted Japanese officials as saying that Washington wants the Inpex Corporation to leave Iran, otherwise it will be a target for the unilateral US sanctions against entities that deal with Iran.

Toyota Motors has withdrawn its business from Iran voluntarily last June to avoid such US sanctions.

Inpex is listed in the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange and about 19% of its stocks are owned by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Japan will review the American request "cautiously" according to the newspaper report.

Analysts say this request will force a decision in Japanese oil and energy diplomacy.

Japan imports almost all of its oil needs, of which about 90% comes from the Persian Gulf region. Iran's share has been around 15% of total Japanese oil imports in recent years.

In 2006, Inpex held 75% of the rights to develop Iran's Azadegan oil field, but it was prevented from proceeding with development work when Iran's suspected nuclear ambitions created a diplomatic standoff with the West.

Its stake was subsequently lowered to 10%.

It came to light in late July that PetroChina Company was close to signing a deal with Iran to acquire a 70% stake in the oil field.


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