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Japan oil imports from Iran fall in October on U.S. sanctions

Bloomberg

By Jacob Adelman

Japan’s crude imports from Iran slumped 63 percent in October to the second-lowest level since the U.S. exempted the Asian nation from sanctions targeting the Middle East country’s nuclear program.

Oil purchases fell to 469,024 kiloliters, or about 95,000 barrels a day, compared with 1.28 million kiloliters in October 2011, according to data today from the Ministry of Finance. Imports fell 48 percent from September. Japan’s total crude purchases shrank 25 percent from a year ago to 12.7 million kiloliters, the finance ministry said Nov. 21.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in March exempted Japan from sanctions on banks doing business with Iran because of the Asian country’s steps to reduce imports from the Persian Gulf nation. Since then, the only month during which imports were below October levels was in August, when they were 418,203 kiloliters, a 67 percent decline from the previous year.

Japanese buyers are continuing to reduce imports of Iranian crude so they don’t lose the exemption, which was renewed in September for a second six-month term, Victor Shum, a Singapore- based managing director at IHS Inc. (IHS), said by phone.

“Japan, like other North Asian consumers that have received waivers from the U.S. government, needs to continue efforts to reduce consumption of Iranian oil,” Shum said. “Japan is not a growing consumer of petroleum so it’s probably a lot easier for Japan as opposed to, for example, China, which is a growing market.”

U.S. and European Union officials say Iran’s nuclear development is aimed at producing atomic weapons, while the government in Tehran says the project is for civilian purposes.