TOKYO, April 9 (UPI) -- Japan is set to start cutting back on the amount of crude oil it purchases from Iran once new contracts enter into force, an official said.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced last month that 10 European countries and Japan were exempt from U.S. sanctions on Tehran because of their decisions to "significantly" reduce the amount of oil they import from Iran.
Refineries in Japan are expected to get around 300,000 barrels of Iranian crude oil in April in line with deliveries for the first three months of 2012. Once new contracts go into force, Iranian crude supplies should drop to around 240,000 bpd, sources close to the matter told the Platts news service on condition of anonymity.
Japan's Nippon Oil and Energy, the country's largest crude oil refiner, has a contract with Iran for 10,000 bpd that runs from April to March. The source said the company might not renew that contract but keep a January-December contract for 80,000 bpd.
Japan, during a energy conference in Kuwait last month, called for more liquefied natural gas from the United States because of the boom in the production of shale deposits.
Japan relies on LNG to meet 100 percent of its natural gas needs.