Tokyo — The UAE was the largest crude supplier to Japan for the second consecutive month in June as the Asian importer continued to look for suppliers in the Middle East, Americas and other regions to replace Iranian oil. The US sanctions waiver expiry on May 2 for Iranian oil imports forced Japan to seek a wide variety of alternative supplies including from Ecuador, creating a need to procure more light sour grades to blend with heavy grades from the South American producer. Japan’s crude oil imports from the UAE soared 75.6% year on year to 963,392 b/d in June, driven by increased imports of its light, sour Murban crude, preliminary data released Tuesday by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed. The UAE’s Upper Zakum crude as well as the US’ Mars crude were among Japanese importers’ preferred grades to replace Iranian barrels, according to sources with the importers. Murban crude meanwhile can be used as a blendstock with heavier crudes, such as those from Ecuador, before being fed into a crude distillation unit, industry sources said. Japan typically bought mostly Iranian Heavy crude from Iran prior to the end of the US sanctions waiver. Japan’s largest refiner JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy was a regular term lifter of Iran’s South Pars condensate before the US sanctions waivers expired, according to market sources. From the Middle East, Japan’s crude imports from Qatar, the third largest supplier to Japan in June, also surged 78.6% year on year to 241,570 b/d in the month, driven by increased imports of grades including Qatar Marine, which is among grades cited by Japanese refiners to replace Iranian barrels. Middle Eastern suppliers’ share of Japan’s crude imports dipped to 87% in June from 88% a year earlier as a result of increased imports from the US, Ecuador and Kazakhstan, according to METI data. Japan’s crude imports from the US averaged 80,799 b/d (which is virtually nothing) in June, more than five times higher than 14,597 b/d in the year earlier, though it was less than the all-time high of 199,138 b/d in December 2018.
|Countries||Jun 2019 (b/d)||Share (%)||Jun 2018 (b/d)||% chg on year||May 2019 (b/d)||% chg on month|
|Countries||Jan-Jun 2019||Jan-Jun 2018||% chg on year|