TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese oil refiners may have to stop loading Iranian crude oil from Oct. 1 if Japan’s government does not secure an exemption from U.S. sanctions to allow imports to continue, the president of the Petroleum Association of Japan (PAJ) said on Friday.
If payments to Iran cannot continue after a 180-day “wind-down period” ending on Nov. 4, it is possible that Japanese buyers of Iranian oil will have to make their last order for Iranian oil in August for September-loading cargoes, said Takashi Tsukioka, who is also chairman of Japan’s second-biggest refiner, Idemitsu Kosan Co.
That is because the payment for October-loading cargoes would be made in November, he told a monthly news conference on Friday.
Tsukioka said that Japan, which would have to get a reprieve from the U.S. by Nov. 4 to continue imports, would study the responses of other countries.
“I think it’s worth paying attention to what actions that some countries like China and India that raised (Iranian oil) imports during the previous U.S. sanctions would take,” he told reporters.
PAJ’s Senior Managing Director Shinya Okuda added that the Japanese trade ministry has been gathering information on details of the proposed U.S. sanctions.
Tsukioka told some reporters after the news conference that Japan’s refining industry had been bracing for a possible cut in Iranian oil import curbs, while the latest sanctions also raised international payment issues.
“In the wake of the last sanctions on Iran, financial institutions became very conservative amid worries that they could not operate in the United States,” he added.
Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; editing by Richard Pullin