Japan, S. Korea to buy Iran crude ahead of others

Iran is keen to keep up the oil competition with OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia in terms of official selling prices, deputy for international affairs at the National Iranian Oil Company said on Saturday.

On how Iran is planning to rival the world’s biggest crude exporter in the global oil market amid an oversupply and persistently low prices, Seyyed Mohsen Qamsari said Japan and South Korea will embark on buying Iranian oil ahead of other customers.

The official added that Iranian light crude is still more expensive than Saudi Arabia’s, Shana reported.

“Iran supplies around 110,000 barrels of crude a day to Japan, but the volume is expected to rise to 350,000 bpd after oil and trade embargoes are lifted, making Iran the country’s third or fourth major supplier of crude,” he said.

Iran reached a historic deal with six world powers on July 14 in Vienna to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Tehran is now Tokyo’s sixth biggest oil exporter, supplying only 3% of the country’s demand, way behind Saudi Arabia that claims roughly one-third of the Japanese oil market.

Japan imported 10% of its oil from Iran in 2000, but sanctions have cut that figure to roughly 5% in 2014.

According to Qamsari, the Southeast Asian state’s daily import of crude oil stands at 3.5 million barrels and but has pledged to restore imports from the Persian Gulf country to the post-sanctions period.

 Output Unchanged

OPEC, of which Saudi Arabia is the largest producer, decided in December and again in June to keep its production target unchanged at 30 million barrels a day.
The group has exceeded this official target every month since May 2014.

Saudi Arabia was the only member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting countries to reduce supply in September, as small increases totaling 80,000 bpd came from Iran, Libya, Nigeria, the UAE and Angola.

Saudi supply fell back to 10.26 million bpd in September from 10.4 million bpd in August, according to a Reuters survey.

This comes as Iran plans to produce 3.8 million to 3.9 million barrels of oil a day by March, with output surging by 500,000 barrels a day soon after sanctions are lifted and by 1 million barrels within the following five months.

An Oil Ministry official has declared that the Islamic Republic will reach the 500,000-bpd milestone by late November or early December even before most western sanctions are lifted.

Riyadh is expected to cut the prices of crude it sells to Asia in November to retain its market share in the region, with analysts expecting a cut of $1.50-$2 in the official selling prices.

By Financial Tribune