Baku, Azerbaijan, May 11
By Fatih Karimov - Trend: Iran has said that all its crude oil customers have extended their contracts for buying oil from the country.
Mohsen Ghamsari, director for international affairs at the National Iranian Oil Company, said the country will sell crude oil based on the preset quotas, Iran's Shana news agency reported on May 11.
That is while, Japanese oil refiner Idemitsu Kosan Co announced on May 7 that it has not renewed its annual crude purchase contract with Iran for the fiscal year that started in April and it is unclear if the company will renew it.
The company bought an unspecified minimum volume of Iran crude in the fiscal year that ended on March 31, accounting for less than 1 percent of the company's total crude purchases, Taiji Hashidoko, manager of Idemitsu's Investor Relations Office, said.
Hashidoko said a year ago that Idemitsu would buy either no crude or a maximum of one cargo from Iran in the year through March 2015, a move to keep at bay any potential U.S. pressure over oil shipments from the Islamic republic.
Idemitsu, Japan's second-biggest oil refiner by sales with total crude refining capacity of 535,000 barrels per day (bpd), had a Iranian crude contract for 2,000 to 3,000 bpd in the past business year, sources have said.
Iran, once OPEC's second-largest exporter, is expected to try to sell more oil to Asian consumers such as China and India before a final nuclear deal due in June, which Tehran hopes will lift Western sanctions that have curbed its oil exports by more than half and crippled its economy.
Asia's intake of Iranian crude fell 23 percent in the first two months of 2015, with India and South Korea importing around 40 percent less than in the same period last year. Iran is keen to recover market share lost under the U.S.-led sanctions that have curbed its exports to around 1 million bpd from 2.5 million bpd in 2011.
But until a final deal is reached on its nuclear activities, of the four Asian buyers, only China is likely to increase imports, sources have said. Even if Iran and the world powers reach a tentative agreement, government officials say it could fall apart when the sides attempt to agree on the technical details for a comprehensive accord by June 30.