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Japan's METI minister says up to refiners to decide on Iran oil imports

Tokyo — Japanese refiners need to make their own decisions regarding their imports of Iranian oil, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko said Tuesday when asked at a news conference if the government had provided any guidance to refiners on the matter.

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"I understand that this would basically, properly be judged by private companies," Seko said in response to a question about whether the government had provided any guidance to local refiners, which are increasingly facing difficulty maintaining their Iranian oil imports ahead of looming US sanctions.

Japan is seeking an early exemption to US sanctions on Iran as among its highest priorities for the country's energy security, as well as for local refiners that need Iranian oil, according to Ryo Minami, METI's director-general of oil, gas and mineral resources.

US sanctions on Iran's oil customers resume November 4 and could remove up to 1 million b/d of global oil supply. -- Takeo Kumagai, takeo.kumagai@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Wendy Wells, wendy.wells@spglobal.com