TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's major oil wholesalers are preparing to suspend crude oil imports from Iran in October, amid fears Washington will sanction countries importing Iranian crude, local media reported.
A second phase of sanctions targeting Iran's crucial oil industry and banking sector will be reinstated on November 5.
Japan has been seeking a waiver that would allow it to continue importing Iranian oil, but it appears unlikely to win one, Jiji Press agency and other local media reported in recent days.
As a result, Japanese oil companies are preparing to halt imports of Iranian crude and researching ways to increase imports from elsewhere to make up the shortfall, the reports said.
A trade ministry official on Monday (Sept 3) confirmed Japan had raised the issue of a waiver in talks with the US but declined to comment further.
Oil importers declined to confirm they were contingency planning for a halt in Iranian imports.
"We've been saying we will observe a government decision (on Iranian oil imports), but we can't comment further as we don't disclose information on individual trades," a spokesman for wholesaler Showa Shell Sekiyu told AFP on Monday.
Wholesaler JXTG also declined to confirm the report.
Resource-pour Japan relies heavily on imports of oil from the Middle East, though crude from Iran accounted for just 5.3 per cent of the country's total imports last year.