Japanese Refiner Prepares To Resume Iranian Oil Imports

Thursday, 02/17/2022

Japanese oil and energy corporation ENEOS has announced its readiness to resume Iranian oil imports within two to three months of any revival of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Tsutomu Sugimori, chairman of Japan’s largest refiner, said Thursday that ENEOS would not be able to resume Iranian imports immediately as it needed to set up insurance and arrange shipping. He called a two to three-month period a “possibility.”

Japan suspended Iran oil imports in 2019, as the expiry of a limited United States sanctions waiver raised the threat of US punitive action against Japan for buying Iranian oil. Sugimori Thursday reflected his company’s interest in Iranian oil, which is suitable for refining and likely to be competitive as global prices rise.

"Once reaching agreement, [Iranian oil] will be a choice for our crude oil procurements, and that's when we start our consideration,” he said. "Without the lifting [of the US threat to penalise the company], there will be no deal [to resume imports] because the current sanctions are weighed heavily…”

Sugimori suggested that the easing of US ‘maximum pressure sanctions’ would bring an extra 2 million barrels of oil a day onto the world market.

Also in preparation for the possible easing of US sanctions, Iran and South Korea, another major Iranian oil customer before 2018-19, opened detailed talks on freeing Tehran's money frozen by Korean banks fearful of punitive US measures.

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