Monday, February 20, 2012

Japanese Showa Shell to buy Iran crude despite oil ban

Iran is the fourth-largest crude supplier to Japan. Iranian crude accounted for 8.8 percent of Japan's total imports in 2011

Source: Press TV

Japan's Showa Shell Sekiyu KK, which runs the fifth biggest refinery in the country, has announced that it will continue to import crude from Iran despite Western sanctions against the Iranian oil sector.

The company, which is a Royal-Dutch Shell affiliate, said on Monday that Iran's recent halt of oil sales to French and British companies, including the oil major Shell, will have no impact on its Iranian crude imports.

On February 19, Iranian Oil Ministry announced cutting oil exports to British and French firms in line with the decision to end crude exports to six European states including the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, Greece and Portugal.

Meanwhile, an unnamed official at Showa Shell told Reuters that the firm and Shell are separate companies and have signed different contracts with Iran for importing the country’s crude.

The company had already announced on February 14 that it would continue to import about 100,000 barrels per day of Iranian crude oil despite mounting pressure from the United States to cut Iran oil imports.

"(Iran) is an important source of crude for Japan as well as our company, and we will wait for the government's guidance on the matter," Showa Shell Sekiyu KK president Jun Arai added.

The announcement came as US sanctions on Iran over its peaceful nuclear program aim to make it difficult for refiners around the world, including in Japan, to buy Iranian crude or pay Tehran for its oil.

On December 31, 2011, Washington imposed new sanctions on Iran to penalize other countries for importing the country’s oil. The European Union also imposed similar sanctions on January 23 to ban Iran's oil imports by member states.

Iran is the fourth-biggest crude supplier to Japan and the Iranian crude accounted for 8.8 percent of Japan's total imports in 2011.

The US, Israel and their European allies accuse Iran of diversion in its peaceful nuclear program and have used this as an excuse to pass four rounds of international sanctions against the country at the UN Security Council.

Refuting the claims, Tehran insists that as a member to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it is fully entitled to peaceful applications of the nuclear energy.

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