Japanese Buyers to Keep Iran Crude Volumes Steady in 2015

Japanese Buyers to Keep Iran Crude Volumes Steady in 2015Japanese Buyers to Keep Iran Crude Volumes Steady in 2015

Two of Japan's biggest buyers of Iranian crude, JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp and Showa Shell Sekiyu KK, are set to keep their purchases from Tehran largely steady in 2015, their top officials said on Tuesday.

JX, which sources said imported 53,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian crude in 2014, will keep its volumes steady in the new term contract starting this month, Reuters quoted Chairman Yasushi Kimura as saying on the sidelines of an industry gathering.

"Iranian sanctions have been unchanged, so we will not increase or reduce volumes," Kimura said. Showa Shell Sekiyu also indicated its intention to keep its Iranian crude volumes steady at about 70,000 bpd in the fiscal year starting on April 1.

"I don't think there would be a big difference. Under the Japanese government's policy, our firm is set to secure crude volumes that are necessary for stable supplies," Showa Shell's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Shigeya Kato told reporters.

Japanese refiners have been making decisions about how much Iranian crude to buy after consulting with the government on how much they are allowed under Western sanctions on Iran.

Iran and Western world powers failed in November to meet a self-imposed deadline to resolve the standoff over Tehran's nuclear program, extending talks for seven more months and allowing Iran crude exports at about 1 million bpd, down by more than half from 2012 levels.

Other Japanese buyers of Iranian crude such as Cosmo Oil Co are also likely to keep their volumes steady under the new contracts starting in April, industry sources familiar with the matter said. Cosmo in 2014 was lifting a little below 15,000 bpd, while Idemitsu has a contract for 2,000 to 3,000 bpd, sources said.

Iran's biggest oil buyer is China, which imported about 420,000 bpd in 2013. Unlike the country's other oil buyers, China has not cut purchases much. Other major Asian buyers of Iranian oil, including Japan, South Korea and India, have cut imports under pressure from Washington.