April 2, 2012 / 8:11 AM / 8 years ago

Some Japan firms to skip Iran crude buying in April

TOKYO/SINGAPORE, April 2 (Reuters) - At least three Japanese firms including two oil refiners will not lift any Iranian crude in April as the third-biggest buyer of Iranian oil comes under pressure from the United States to curtail such purchases, industry sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.

Japan’s third-biggest refiner, Idemitsu Kosan Co, is seen as one of the refiners that could skip the purchase as it has not yet renewed its annual contract with Tehran, sources said.

Showa Shell Sekiyu, the nation’s top buyer of Iranian crude, will lift some Iranian barrels this month, but the volumes will be lower than last year’s average of about 100,000 barrels per day to comply with U.S. sanctions, industry sources said.

The United States is pushing sanctions to pressure Iran to curb its nuclear programme, which the West suspects is a cover to develop atomic weapons but which Iran says is purely civilian. (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori in TOKYO and Florence Tan in SINGAPORE; Editing by Michael Watson)

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