Iran Oil Exports to Japan Fell in November 2011

Monday, January 2, 2012

Tokyo- (PanOrient News) Iran provided 6.4% of total Japanese crude oil imports in November 2011, according to figures from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).

It said that refiners and trading companies imported 5.853 million barrels of crude oil from Iran in November, compared with 8.138 million barrels in the previous month of October, suggesting that American sanctions against Iran might reduce Japan's crude shipments from that country.

On Dec. 15, the U.S. Congress endorsed harsher sanctions against Iran, seeking to tighten the screws on the country and derail its nuclear program. The measures ban U.S. financial institutions from conducting dollar-based transactions with foreign financial firms that do business with Iran's Central Bank. The sanctions are aimed at stifling Iran's oil exports by cutting the country's access to foreign banks and credit.

Analysts say Japan might be forced to curtail crude oil imports from Iran in order to avoid U.S. sanctions that punish foreign banks that do business with Tehran's central bank. Some Japanese megabanks, including Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., are likely to run afoul of the new policy.

The approved legislation permits U.S. President Barack Obama to grant some exemptions. Japan will have to significantly reduce its oil imports from Iran to have its megabanks exempt, a Japanese government official told Nikkei. "Even if Iranian crude imports are gradually reduced, it is possible to substitute the same amount with Saudi imports," the official said.

Saudi Arabia remained the biggest oil supplier to Japan in November, exporting 33.46 million barrels, or 31.4% of Japan's total imports, followed by the United Arab Emirates with 24.72 million barrels, or 23.2% of Japan's crude imports. Qatar came third with 13.2 million barrels or 12.4% of the total. Kuwait came 4th with 9.43 million barrels (8.8%), followed by Iran in the 5th place.

Arabic countries, including Iraq, Oman, Yemen, Sudan and the Saudi-Kuwaiti Neutral Zone, supplied 88.7 million barrels or 82.3% of total Japanese crude imports in November, according to METI.

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