May 16, 2008 / 10:37 AM / 12 years ago

Japan begins talks to expand gasoline exports to US

TOKYO, May 16 (Reuters) - Japan, the United States and oil firms from the two countries have agreed to foster boosting gasoline exports from Japan to the U.S., the world’s biggest oil consumer.

The U.S. Department of Energy and Japan’s trade ministry hosted a roundtable meeting in San Francisco on Thursday, attended by oil firms including U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) and Japan’s biggest refiner Nippon Oil Corp 5001.T.

Japanese exports to the United States of distillates such as gas oil have been steadily on the rise, but exports of gasoline are relatively uncommon.

Japan’s falling oil demand has left it with spare refining capacity and Japanese refiners are eager to boost gasoline exports, as that would compensate for steadily decreasing domestic consumption due to a peaking population and the increased popularity of fuel-efficient smaller cars.

Although a Japanese trade ministry official said the meeting ended with no detailed arrangements of exports, both countries agreed that the United States would stand to gain as it has consistently suffered from a lack of refinery capacity and gasoline shortages, especially in the summer. (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori)

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