Japan, South Korea plan to resume Iran oil imports from January

US earlier reinstated its sanctions on Iran, after it withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal in May. (File/AFP)
Updated 19 November 2018
0

Japan, South Korea plan to resume Iran oil imports from January

  • Japan and South Korea were among the countries issued with a waiver from the US, after it reinstated sanctions on Iran
  • Both countries temporarily halted Iranian oil loading around mid-September

TOKYO/SEOUL: Refiners in Japan and South Korea are looking to resume Iranian oil imports from January after receiving waivers from US sanctions on Tehran, sources familiar with the matter said.
The unexpected resurgence in Iranian oil imports due to the waivers has helped push spot prices for Middle East crude and condensate to their lowest in more than a year.
The United States in November granted exemptions to eight countries, allowing them to import some Iranian crude for another 180 days. Japan and South Korea were among the top five buyers of Iranian crude and condensate before they stopped imports in the third quarter ahead of the sanctions.
South Korean refiners are set to hold their Iranian oil imports at zero until the end of the year, and they may resume shipments in late January or early February as buyers are in talks with Iran to sign new contracts, industry sources said.
“They are seeking to get the best price and are in talks with Iran,” said a source with direct knowledge of the matter.
Most tankers are booked until December, so South Korea may load Iran oil shipments in January at the earliest, he said.
It takes about 25 days for oil shipments from Iran to arrive at South Korea. Iran also has the option of selling oil from storage in Dalian, China, which would shorten delivery time.
Last week, a South Korean delegation was in Iran to negotiate for 2019 supplies of mainly South Pars condensate.
“There are some issues to be cleared like payment. We are not able to buy it at the moment and are not rushing,” a second source said. “Iran is also trying not to sell it cheaper. We ... won’t import Iran oil until perhaps after January.”
The sources declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.
Japan
Fuji Oil Co, one of Japan’s top Iranian oil buyers, plans to resume Iran crude liftings from January as well, and is also looking to buy condensate.
Fuji Oil was considering whether to sign a new contract for Iranian crude, its top executive said last week, adding that oil from Iran is competitively priced against rival grades.
Japan’s largest refiner, JXTG Holdings, said earlier this month it may resume Iranian oil loadings from December.
But while Japanese buyers are likely to buy Iranian oil through February loadings, they may not take the crude from March onwards, as they wait for the government to extend sovereign ship insurance into the new financial year that starts on April 1, industry sources familiar with the matter said.
Started in 2012 to counter sanctions on Iranian oil, Japan’s sovereign insurance scheme covers any shortfalls from Protection & Indemnity (P&I) insurance for ships carrying crude from Iran to Japan.
The Japanese government has declined to give information on the volumes of Iranian imports that would be allowed under the 180-day exemption period.
Some sources said the sanctions waiver may allow Japan to buy around 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian oil. That marks a significant reduction for buyers that took about 165,000 bpd of Iranian oil in January-September.
Japan joined South Korea in temporarily halting Iranian oil loading around mid-September.


Disney again makes history with takings above $7bn for 2018

Updated 11 December 2018
0

Disney again makes history with takings above $7bn for 2018

  • Box office gross marks second biggest year for Disney
  • Latest offering "Mary Poppins Returns" expected to dominate box office

LOS ANGELES: Walt Disney Studios is again ending the year on a high note, posting more than $7 billion in global box office earnings, thanks to hits such as "Black Panther" and "Avengers: Infinity War."
"This is only the second time in history any studio has surpassed the $7 billion mark, after Disney's own industry-record 2016 global gross of $7.6 billion," the company said in a statement on Monday.
"The Studios' estimated international box office gross through December 9 is an estimated $4.069 billion, marking our second biggest year and the third biggest in industry history," it added.
Disney's success comes as the studio is set to release "Mary Poppins Returns" on December 19, which is expected to top the box office during the holiday season.
"To date, four of the top eight worldwide releases of the year are from The Walt Disney Studios, including the top two global and top three domestic releases," the company said.
"Avengers: Infinity War," made by Disney's Marvel subsidiary, led the way, earning $2 billion alone. It is followed by superhero movie "Black Panther," which earned $1.35 billion worldwide.
"Incredibles 2," made by Pixar, another Disney subsidiary, earned $1.24 billion.
Other top box office earners for 2018 are "Ant-Man and The Wasp," "Solo: A Star Wars Story," and "Ralph Breaks the Internet," which has held the number one spot at the North American box office for the third consecutive week.