earlier, data from the Ministry of Finance showed on Thursday, as Western sanctions squeezed shipments from the Middle Eastern country.
Japan, the world’s third-biggest user of oil, imported 1,246,176 kiloliters of Iranian crude last month, compared with 1,533,956 kiloliters a year ago, according to customs-cleared data from the ministry. That marked the highest volumes since 1,751,737 kiloliters in March 2012, the month before Japan started sharply cutting imports from the Islamic republic due to Western sanctions.
Japan’s trade ministry is due to release separate crude import data on Friday, which is more closely followed by the oil industry as it tracks the actual import status of tankers.
Crude importers can seek customs clearance within three months of a cargo’s arrival or apply to have the load categorized as “import for storage” and held for up to two years
before being cleared, meaning the finance ministry data can be out of date.
The United States in September renewed waivers on Iranian sanctions for Japan and 10 European countries because they cut their purchases of the OPEC nation’s crude oil.
Tough sanctions from Washington and Europe to force Iran to curb its nuclear program have already cut Iran’s oil exports by more than half this year, costing it more than $5 billion a month. Tehran says the program is for civilian purposes.
For the first 11 months of 2012, Japan imported 10,240,797 kiloliters of Iranian crude, down 38.7% from the same period a year ago. Japan’s oil imports from Iran may be about 15% lower next year, and may possibly be cut further, Yasushi Kimura, the president of Petroleum Association of Japan, who also serves as the chairman of JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp, told reporters last week.
By Japan Today
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