March 20, 2019 / 10:05 AM / 3 months ago

Japan refiners unlikely to import Iranian oil from April: PAJ head

FILE PHOTO: Idemitsu Kosan Co. Chief Executive Officer Takashi Tsukioka attends a news conference with Showa Shell Sekiyu Chief Executive Officer Tsuyoshi Kameoka (not in picture) in Tokyo, Japan, October 13, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese refiners will unlikely continue to import oil from Iran from April unless Japan gets a sanctions waivers extension from the U.S. government, Takashi Tsukioka, president of the Petroleum Association of Japan (PAJ), said on Wednesday.

The PAJ head said he believes the government is negotiating with the United States to get such a waiver and that PAJ would support this effort.

Japanese refiners have been asking the government to seek an extension of the U.S. sanctions waivers after the initial 180-day exemption period is over in early May. [nL3N1ZO2R2]

Japanese officials and their U.S. counterparts met last week in Washington to discuss the U.S. sanctions on Iran, according to a statement from Japan’s foreign ministry.

“Japan has told the U.S. that the sanctions should not negatively affect Japan’s stable supply of energy and Japanese companies’ operations,” an official at Japan’s industry ministry said, although declining to comment on the result of the talks.

Asked if Japan will extend sovereign ship insurance to import Iranian oil to the financial year that starts on April 1, PAJ’s Tsukioka said: “We understand the insurance is due to roll-over. We are just waiting for an announcement.”

Tsukioka had said in November, shortly after the U.S. sanctions waivers had been granted, that it was unclear whether the government would extend sovereign ship insurance into the new financial year.

Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Tom Hogue

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